Review: MR HARE MEETS MR MANDELA and WANDA THE MUSICAL at the Homecoming Centre

Both productions will run at Avalon Auditorium until 30 April.

'THE GREATEST LOVE OF ALL Star Belinda Davids Returns To Joburg Theatre

In the world of theatre, the attitude towards children's theatre is not always positive. Sometimes regarded as the lesser-than-stepchild, you'll often hear people say: "It was good, for a children's production". To me, children's theatre is vital and important work, and should be treated as such. Our attitude towards children's theatre is reflective of our attitude towards younger audiences, who are our country's most important theatre-attending demographic - especially considering the country's current shape.

An area's children's theatre is also a good indicator of the quality of theatre you will likely find there. While Johannesburg has the National Children's Theatre, Cape Town does not have a space dedicated to children's theatre. Luckily, there are two children's productions currently visiting the Homecoming Centre: MR HARE MEETS MR MANDELA and WANDA THE MUSICAL, both presented by Ticket to the Moon Youth Theatre Company.

It is so refreshing to see good quality children's theatre that is based on local stories. Both productions are adaptations of popular South African children's books. It proves that we don't have to scrounge international IPs and familiar Disney characters, and judging from the audience's reaction, having stories with a South African flavour resonates deliciously.

MR HARE MEETS MR MANDELA is based on Chris van Wyk's beloved picture book and is staged in celebration of 105 years of Nelson Mandela's legacy. The story follows Mr Hare's journey from the bush to the scary city to return a R200 note to Nelson Mandela - who the illiterate Mr Hare assumes owns the note since his face appears on it. It is a real fish out of water tale, and its recognisable scenery and Mzansi jokes are delightful.

The set pieces are inspired by Paddy Bouma's gorgeous original illustrations and they draw the audience into the whimsical picture book world from the start. The cast of this production is very charming and exuberant with energy. While the performers delivered dedicated performances, on the day I watched there was a lack of clarity around the ¾ mark of the show, and its denouement overstayed its welcome. Nevertheless, this pacing issue will likely be straightened out throughout its run and did not detract from the production being a delightful watching experience.

Where MR HARE MEETS MR MANDELA lost a bit of its footing on the day I attended, WANDA THE MUSICAL burst with brightness and precision from the get-go. Based on Sihle Nontshokweni and Mathabo Tlali's best-selling picture book, WANDA is an empowering story about a girl who is teased for her natural hair, but through the help of her mother and grandmother, learns that her hair is a beautiful crown that she must be proud of.

The story is simple and powerful, and the catchy musical numbers elevate the production to contagious vibrancy. Tebogo Moetswadi Molepo as Wanda is superb - it feels like Wanda jumped off the picture book pages and onto the stage. The rest of the cast doesn't miss a beat and they create hilarious moments that both children and adult audiences will enjoy.

The production's messages of self-acceptance and identity are also extremely relevant. At the end of the show, the two boys who mercilessly teased Wanda understand that they were wrong and their actions are actively condemned by the narrative. However, the teacher who enforced the strict dress code rules and disapproved of Wanda's hair faces no clear reproof. It might be a sensitive area, but if the production featured the teacher clearly changing her mind and apologizing, it would have been powerful commentary on the upsetting news stories relating to blatantly racist dress codes still present in some South African schools. It is unfortunately still a reality that some of the younger audiences face, and addressing it would have been a brave addition. Regardless, the production's message still translates strongly and is a stand-out fresh and bold production.

Both shows provide an afternoon of family-friendly entertainment and engaging theatre experiences for younger and older minds. Charming and fun, both shows feel refreshing when compared to some of the overwhelmingly bombastic children's theatre productions that tend to overwhelm the senses instead of stimulating them.

Both productions run at the Homecoming Centre until 30 April Tickets are R150 and bookings are via Quicket at Click Here.

Groups of 20 or more qualify for a group discount and can be booked by calling 071 345 7276.


STUART TAYLOR – LAUGHABLE Comes to Pieter Toerien's Montecasino Theatre This Month

STUART TAYLOR – LAUGHABLE comes to Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino Theatre – Main Stage this month. Performances run Fri 30 June – Sun 2 July.

The Ndlovu Youth Choir Embarks on Tour of South Africa

Following on from the phenomenal sold out success of the Ndlovu Youth Choir in Concert in Johannesburg and Cape Town in 2022, local promoter Showtime Management is pleased to announce the return of Ndlovu Youth Choir for five shows only in each city. 


Come join us for this classic tale, originally by the brothers Grimm, which has been reworked as an entertaining play by Gaerin Hauptfleisch - who also makes one or two appearances as Handy Andy, the handyman.

WOMEN IN COUNTRY to Play The Drama Factory in June

Grace Newton brings Women in Country to The Drama Factory.  This show celebrates the wonderful female songwriters who have brought us music that makes us dance, cry and sing along. Women In Country features songs from Stevie Nicks, Dolly Parton, Shania Twain, Allison Krauss, June Carter-Cash and more.

From This Author - Klara van Rooyen

Klara is a Cape Town-based creative with a life-long interest in theatre and literature. In 2021, she completed her BA Honours degree in Drama & Theatre Studies at Stellenbosch University, special... (read more about this author)


#repshow# in[i]# THE VISIGOTHS
Baxter Theatre (6/06-6/24)
#repshow# in[i]# Vintage Jukebox
Theatre On The Bay (6/14-6/24)

Recommended For You