The genre of performing pantomime is a truly difficult form of theatre to master. Just like the genre of farce – a comedy that entertains through situations that are highly exaggerated, extravagant and, more often than not, improbable – a good pantomime deceives its audience into believing that anything could go wrong on stage at any moment. That’s part of what makes it fun each year.
However, it’s actually the opposite. Pantomime is a highly disciplined art form that depends – more than most – on complete ensemble participation. Each artist on the stage is just as important as the other. Not only must pantomime performers be ‘triple threats’ – having the ability to sing, act and dance equally well – but they also require great comedy timing and the skill to engage and interact with audiences.
Whilst Joburg has seen popular and regularly returning stars of the panto – including Tobie Cronjé, Desmond Dube and Bongi Mthombeni – there are many other stalwarts of the Janice Honeyman pantomimes at Joburg Theatre who, through their toned performances, help drive the engine smoothly and skilfully at each show.
One such artist who has mastered the delivery, style and ‘choreographed confusion’ of the pantomime is Dolly Louw, who will be celebrating her ninth Joburg pantomime this year, performing in Cinderella.
Comments writer and director Janice Honeyman: “If there has always been a spark and a smile on the panto stage, that sparky smile is Dolly Louw. She is a stalwart who gives one hundred per cent every show, morning, matinee or evening. Without fail. Her sense of comedy, her own wicked sense of humour and her strength as a team-member is absolutely reliable.”
Dolly Louw’s many other theatre credits include featured roles in Buddy: The Buddy Holly Show, The Rocky Horror Show (nominated as best newcomer 2009), Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’Be, Show Boat, The Boys in the Photograph, Goggas, James and the Giant Peach, Sister Act and the recent multi-award winning productions of King Kong and The Color Purple.
“But it’s not only panto she’s good at,” adds Janice. “Dolly was right on the comedy button in Sister Act, and she was a treat as one of the three Church Singers in The Color Purple: leading the ladies through a gamut of emotions, from indignation to religious ecstasy, from shocked gossiping to slightly drunken flirtation.”
Dolly Louw’s television credits include Generations, Thabang Thabong, Inside the Baobab Tree and she appeared in the short film Awakening, featured in the Durban international Film Festival.
“I’ve been blessed to be a part of the pantomime family for nine years and it has taught me how to be resilient and consistent in my acting craft,” says vivacious, multi-talented Dolly. “The Pantomime is uninhibited fun and I love the magical atmosphere we get to create as performers. And seeing starry eyed audiences, young and old, is the cherry on top. It also keeps my childlike fire alive.”
While musical theatre is her first love, Dolly is also a food enthusiast and an aspiring chef, whose passion lies in the diverse culture of food and the discovery of different styles of cooking through her brand Black Cherry’s Table – her pop up dinner club.
Janice Honeyman’s pantomime Cinderella is produced by Joburg Theatre and Bernard Jay and can be seen on the Nelson Mandela stage at Joburg Theatre from October 31st to December 20th 2020. Tickets are on sale from R240 through www.joburgtheatre.com or by calling 0861 670 670.
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