national Arts Festival Banner

Thursday, December 11, 2014


(Rory Booth leads the company in "Happy". Pic by Val Adamson)

KickstArt surpasses its pantomime presentations with this one! (Review by Caroline Smart)

In his programme notes for Aladdin, which opened last night at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, director Steven Stead reflects on KickstArt’s pantomime history and notes that “... of all the pantomimes we have done, the most magical and consequently most visually spectacular is Aladdin.”

Stead certainly hit the nail on the head. Aladdin is undeniably magical and visually spectacular.

Pantomime offers a marvellous – and almost no-holds-barred process - for a creative crew. While the consistent flow of The Mercury Durban Theatre Awards every year indicates the company’s excellence, the production team under Stead’s direction have truly surpassed themselves this time!

Designer Greg King uses his skills to extend the Oriental theme to full capacity and his set design offers one scenic delight after another. I will never look at a Willow Pattern plate again in the same light and my best features were two stroppy looking lions in the imperial bedroom! The lighting, sound and special effects add to the impressive whole and the costumes range from the deliciously ridiculous to the elegantly sublime.

Newcomer to the KickstArt cast is Nathan Kruger who gives a lively performance as Aladdin. Both highly skilled performers, pantomime stalwarts Darren King as Widow Twankey and Bryan Hiles as Wishee Washee are audience favourites. Bringing a hilarious touch of the Durban Indian influence as the Genie of the Ring is Rory Booth while Georgina Mabbett is a charming Princess Jasmine with Caitlin Kilburn a delight as her ditsy handmaid, Dar Ling. A delightful surprise of the evening was to see an almost unrecognisable Iain Robinson (Ewok) as the evil magician Abanazar, putting in a fine comedy performance and walking off with the honours!

Under choreographer Janine Bennewith, the hardworking company handles with aplomb the energy required for the varied dance styles and the musical component of the show is just as enjoyable.

The delighted laughter and deafening roars when needed from youngsters and adults alike says it all. Don’t miss this one!

Aladdin runs at The Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre until January 11. Book early at Computicket. to avoid disappointment Due to the ongoing and unpredictable threat of load-shedding throughout December and January, the 14h30 matinee performances have been moved to 13h30 for the duration of the season. – Caroline Smart

NB: KickstArt supports Acting for Rhinos - an exciting project initiated by Eden College Durban and members of the Durban Theatre community. It is aimed at empowering South African and international school children as well as theatre practitioners to assist Project Rhino KZN.

The programme notes that KickstArt’s multi-award winning “Sweeney Todd” will tour to Johannesburg and Cape Town in 2015. This is splendid news and congratulations to KickstArt!