‘Rapunzel’ a perfect mix of old and new
Written by Port Elizabeth theatre stalwarts Leslie Speyers and Dawn Spence, the Pemads 2019 pantomime Rapunzel — A Tangled Mess is the perfect mix of old-school charm and modern humour.
Bay mayor Mongameli Bobani gets a mention, as does the IPTS bus system — so local audiences will enjoy the “in” jokes.
On Wednesday, opening night, those watching provided the requisite boos, hisses and audience participation expected at a pantomime.
The story-line is a bit of a deviation from the regular Rapunzel tale with a cook, her two sons and two halfwit girls searching in vain for Rapunzel for 16 years before fairies have to hop in and help the hapless search party.
In the title role, Megan Calder plays a suitable sweet Rapunzel and her singing voice is simply fantastic.
The cast members who, however, steal the show are Sian-Beth Hitchner and Abi Ranwell, who both play fairies — albeit with vastly different personalities.
Hitchner is absolutely outstanding as Fallen Fairy, a once loved fairy who sat atop the royal Christmas tree but fell out of favour as she aged.
Fallen Fairy now sports a blacked-out tooth, a stinking attitude, and with her Russian accent is hilarious to watch.
On the other end of the spectrum is Dewdrop, who has taken Fallen Fairy’s position since her fall from grace.
Ditsy and with a lisp, Ranwell is a delight to watch and the chemistry between the rivals-turned-allies makes for some great comedy moments.
Both Hitchner, the show’s choreographer, and Ranwell are also accomplished dancers — which adds another fun dimension.
Speyers, who directs the show, has done a superb job with a largely young cast, while the more mature members — David Jordaan as the dame, Cookie, Rob Andrews as the King and Sandi Osbourne as the Queen — put in solid performances.
Osbourne had the audience in raptures when she performed a version of Bonnie Tyler’s Holding out for a Hero.
One criticism, though slight, is that the dame is generally the one to generate the most laughs and while Jordaan did his bit, he was slightly underutilised.
As the witch Gothel, Nizaan Henning has some good moments, particularly her entrance.
However, the part could perhaps have benefited by having someone with a few miles on the clock playing such a sinister character. Henning, through no fault of her own, is just a little too young to entirely carry off the role.
The cast is energetic, they have great chemistry and the show is well worth a watch.
To top it all off, the show ends with the audience participating in a singalong, great fun for the whole family.