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GRANDPA GRUMP AND HIS MAGICAL JUNK SHOP (article first published : 2006-09-28)

There was great excitement leaving the house to watch Grandpa Grump and his Magical Junk Shop at the Catalina Theatre on Saturday. This was one of the many theatre outings my three and a half year old has become quite accustomed to, and there are certain routines we are bound to adhere to according to her life rules, which of course makes the theatre outing deliciously fun. Dad must come. Nana simply cannot refuse. And sundry cuzzies and uncles were summoned to enjoy the outing. The treats were purchased; the colouring competition was completed in the foyer. And the tots screamed with delight as they rushed into the auditorium, handed in their tickets and were ushered to seats like this was an everyday occurrence. (The theatre mum in me simply beamed with pride!) Thus we settled into the intimate Catalina Theatre for our children’s theatrical holiday treat.

And treat it was. Bryan Hiles plays a grumpy old grandpa who owns a junk shop and besides having lost his spectacles and his false teeth – he has mislaid his imagination and invites the audience to help him find all three.. The result is a pacey whirlwind trip (using his and the audience's collective imagination) through his dusty old shop.

The story revolves around him (and us – yes, mums and dads, we all have to participate!) trying to find his granddaughter’s missing birthday present - Molly the Dolly. We help grandpa dress up as a superhero (complete with some manky old underpants over his tartan trousers a la Superman). We meet a host of fantastical characters like a cuckoo clock that talks, a smelly sock snake, a dustbin monster, a talking goldfish and we finally get to help him defeat Boo the ferocious broomstick dragon. And yes we find his spectacles, teeth, Molly the Dolly and most importantly his (and our imaginations).

The small audience on opening morning – could well have been a full house, with the energy and enthusiasm with which Bryan was met and performed. There were two adult women in the audience who participated more than their own children– which provided some delicious moments for us all. Even my nearly 30 year old brother who I have never seen dance – hopped up and was gladly joining in a wishy washy dance to clean up the smelly snake sock.

We laughed, we clapped and we had great fun and most of all – we felt so safe in this consummate actor’s hands. Bryan was constantly thrown googlies by the audience – as he invited them to help him on his journey and he simply incorporated these suggestions and ideas into the script - a real talent in any performer’s handbook.

A simple set, simple props combined with this clever script by Neil Coppen, Grandpa Grump and his Magical Junk Shop is guaranteed to set the imagination rollicking this holiday season.

The show ends on Sunday, October 1 at 11h00 so I suggest you take anyone over the age of three and head on down to the Catalina Theatre at Wilson’s Wharf! Tickets R40 per person which includes a boat ride around Durban Harbour. Bookings at www.strictlytickets.co.za / www.catalinatheatre.co.za or phone 082 553 5903 – Charlotte Fairfax




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