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CINDERELLA (article first published : 2006-12-12)

I had to take my hat off to the young cast of the Actors Co-Op’s Cinderella this morning as they battled a sneaky wind, not to mention an intrusive racket from a building site next door with jackhammers and demolition equipment. Most of the performers are former University of KwaZulu-Natal drama department students and I am glad to see that they have apparently benefited from my voice masterclasses which focus on the vocal power required for performing in the open-air!

The Campbell Collection Amphitheatre is a potentially useful venue for performance, set as it is within the glorious grounds of the Killie Campbell Museum. However, the show wasn’t half as full as it should have been, compared to the response director Garth Anderson receives in the Durban Botanic Gardens.

This aside, today’s small audience delighted in this presentation of Cinderella which saw the traditional children’s tale brought into an African context with the company’s attractive costumes first introduced in the successful Izinganegwane Story Theatre series. The fairy godmother is a forthright Xhosa lady in traditional dress. She’s also a puppet so is able to “float” above the ground, like any good fairy godmother should! Cinderella goes off to the ball in a Phoenix taxi special with boom-boom music, driven by a lahnee oke from Grey Street side.

Mpumeboza Mthombeni – always a rock-solid entertaining actress and an asset to any production – plays the garrulous Yorich, assistant of note to Prince Charming who was performed with wry underplayed humour by Clinton Small. Slim as a wisp with a generous smile, Kim Sanssoucie was a delightful Cinderella and she is well-matched by Raeesa Abdul-Karrim as the designer label fanatic stepmother from hell!

Adam Doré, who also played Cinderella’s delicious doddery pith-helmeted and bespectacled father, appears as one of the Ugly Sisters along with tall Andrew Kerr, last seen as the young Macduff in the Actors Co-Op’s Macbeth. Together they provide much humour as the unlovely siblings determined to capture the prince’s eye – or better still, pinch his bum!

There is good audience interaction between cast and youngsters who respond well to the fun and nonsense. I was fascinated by a small boy close to me who did nothing but eat or drink the entire performance but his cherubic face followed the story with fascination. He needed very little encouragement to move onto the stage to sing Happy Birthday to Prince Charming! That’s what it’s all about - commitment and response, although there will need to be a bit of education in terms of the fact that you can’t eat or drink in a theatre but, after all, these are our future audiences for mainstream theatre!

Cinderella runs daily until December 24 at 11h00 at Killie Campbell Museum which is on the corner of Marriott and Essenwood Roads. There will also be extra performances at 11h00 on Saturdays and Sundays over the next two weeks at the Durban Botanic Gardens. A colouring-in competition will be held at each performance.

Back at the Killie Campbell Museum venue, Garth Anderson himself will return to the stage to present a new season of his acclaimed Tales from the Brothers Grimm daily at 14h00. This features enactments of Rumpelstiltskin and Little Red Cap, two best-loved stories from the world famous story collection.

Tickets for each production R50 (R40 for children). Bookings on 084 422 1422. – Caroline Smart




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