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What to do at movies and theatre in Jozi

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PETER FELDMAN

On the movie scene, two outstanding productions worth seeing are the animated feature Coco and the welcome return of Michael Bond’s cuddly Brazilian bear, Paddington. They will appeal to both young and old audiences.

Coco is one of the best animated features Pixar has ever produced and it will sweep you away. The story, about a 12-year-old Mexican boy realising his musical ambitions with help from his ancestors, will tug at the heartstrings. It offers zesty energy, colour, music and humour and the animation is first-rate.

Paddington 2 is a glorious sequel to an original production that sets new standards in the field of animation and live action. The chief protagonist, Paddington, voiced by British actor Ben Whishaw, is now happily settled with the Brown family and is a popular member of the local community. With Aunt Lucy’s 100th birthday coming up, Paddington has to find a suitable present for the occasion. He visits an antique shop and discovers the perfect gift; an unusual pop-up-book of London, but cannot afford to buy it. While saving up to buy it, the book is stolen and Paddington is framed for the theft and goes to prison. The Who’s Who of the British acting fraternity are featured here and its fun spotting the celebrity.

Adult audiences may also enjoy Battle of the Sexes. This is a superbly executed look at a real-life Wonder Woman, tennis ace Billie Jean King.

Directors Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton have fashioned a film that focuses on the drama that went down both on court and off. This was when Wimbledon triple-winner Bobby Riggs challenged ladies tennis world champion Billie Jean King to a boys-against-girls exhibition match.

The outcome is widely known, but the back story proves exuberantly entertaining. It comes at a time when people around the world are fighting for gender equality and exploring their sexuality.

Also worth seeing are Man With the Iron Heart, which chronicles the rise to power of ruthless Nazi leader, Reinhard Heydrich, brilliantly played by Jason Clarke, and the plans to assassinate him, and the reworked version of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, directed and starring Kenneth Branagh and a host of glossy names.

The live theatre scene is also active during this period with a number of year-end musicals.

Pinocchio, that perennial favourite from director Janice Honeyman, is once again on at the Joburg Theatre. This is Honeyman’s 30th pantomime and it pulls out all the stops. It runs until the end of December and features a host of South African talent, including crowd favourite Tobie Cronje as Geppeto who creates a wooden puppet that magically becomes a little boy.

Two musical productions that should be on your list, too, are A Handful of Keys and # Respect.

A Handful of Keys has been done several times before (with Ian von Memerty and Bryan Schimmel) but this one ticks all the right boxes. Director Von Memerty, who conceived the idea of two pianists enjoying themselves over the keyboards some 20 years ago, has kept the winning formula intact. The fun, the musicality and the jokes still flow effortlessly – but the shining light here is the harnessing of fresh new talent in Port Elizabethan, James Smith.

He is tall, thin, with expressive features, impossibly long hair, and a bent for acting and comedy. He is a mere 19 years old – and what a tremendous find! Stalwart Roelof Colyn is still at the helm and the two performers create a wonderfully energetic platform for a variety of musical styles and shadings.

#Respect at the Auto & General Theatre on the Square in Sandton features Black Yoghurt, a dynamic threesome of vocal power who engage their audience with a wide range of upbeat songs made famous by female performers. This home-grown group, comprising the elongated Donovan Yaards, the diminutive Itu Tshabane and the slick Sean McGrath, are highly entertaining.

For something completely different, Cinderella on Ice at the Teatro at Montecasino, performed by the world-famous Imperial Ice Stars, is a must. These amazing artists, who have won international acclaim, will amaze with the dexterity on ice and dazzle with the striking costumes and set pieces. This show is a winner for all ages.

The classic holiday favourite, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, is being staged at the Studio Theatre, at Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino Theatre. Elizma Badenhorst’s production uses animation and original music to provide a sensory delight.

 

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