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Saturday, July 2, 2016


Delicious fun for young and old – don’t miss it! (Review by Caroline Smart)

KickstArt has revived their earlier production of Winnie the Pooh and it looks set for a highly successful repeat run at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre over the school holidays. Greg King’s familiar set and costumes have lost none of their charm. This time it is Peter Court in the director’s chair as Steven Stead is currently in Johannesburg where KickstArt’s production Shrek is running at The Lyric at Gold Reef City Casino.

This is a fulfilling period for KickstArt as their production of Sweeney Todd played Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino Theatre at the end of last year and recently finished a run at Artscape in Cape Town. All credit to the hardworking Steven Stead and Greg King.

Winnie the Pooh is a faithful adaptation of AA Milne’s classic children’s story. It’s all about a lovable huggable bear who adores honey and lives in the Hundred Acre Wood along with his friends, Piglet, Owl, Eeyore the donkey, Tigger the Tiger, and Kanga and her daughter Roo. But his real best friend and mentor is young Christopher Robin who lives nearby.

Rowan Bartlett is once again a lovely cuddly Winnie the Pooh, a bear not renowned for his brain capacity.

Last night we saw Jake Savage (who alternates with Ivan Williams) as Christopher Robin. Considering this was not only his first appearance on a professional stage but also the first in front of an audience, he gave an excellent performance with every word clearly articulated. A young actor to watch.

The show is enchanting from the moment it opens when the young actors in animal costume romp about the stage in high spirits. Alexander Beetle is played with much verve by Keryn Lynne Scott; with Grace McIlroy and Sarah Sparks as squirrels and Julia Sutton and Jordyn Everett as the rabbits adding their individual energy. Their ensemble work is well-disciplined – good to see this coming from very young performers.

Anthony Stonier is suitably efficient and stylish as the much put-upon Rabbit. Nhlakanipho Manqele gives a droll interpretation of Owl, introducing amusing hoots in his dialogue. Peter Court is perfect as the gloomy Eeyore and Liesl Coppin is the no-nonsense motherly Kanga with Luca Tarboton as her energetic child, Roo.

Only coming on in the second act, Bryan Hiles’ popularity was evident from the audience’s response at his appearance. He went on to give a hilarious portrayal as the frenetically bouncy Tigger – or as he calls himself “Tee I double-ger”! – whose stock phrase is “whadawhadawhadawhada”.

Stealing the show hands – or trotters – down is Belinda Henwood as a delicious and hugely-endearing Piglet. Full of squeaks and grunts with the occasional leg kick, she gives a stand-out performance.

There are some great scenes such as when Pooh needs to elevate himself to reach the bees’ store of honey in a nearby tree or gets stuck after gorging himself on too much honey in Rabbit’s house as well as putting Eeyore’s tail back on. Piglet’s bath scene is hilarious and there are fun moments as Tigger is tempted with various things to eat – none of which includes Owl’s Mice Krispies!

Winnie the Pooh features tuneful music composed by Justin Southey. Musical direction is by Jason Bird and orchestral arrangements by Jaco van Rensburg. Daisy Spencer’s choreography is first rate and the cast is well-disciplined in movement. Good lighting designed by Tina le Roux and sound designed by Ross van Wyk. Great performances, perfect articulation and audibility. What more could you want!

It’s delicious fun for young and old – don’t miss it!

Winnie the Pooh runs until July 17 at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre on UKZN campus with performances from Tuesday to Sunday at 14h30 and Friday at 19h00. No babes in arms, or children under three.

Tickets R180/R150/R120 (R150/R120/R100 children and pensioners). Booking is at Computicket: For block bookings contact Ailsa Windsor of Going Places: or 083 250 2690. – Caroline Smart