Rugby star Rob­bie to kick off in panto

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - KARISHMA DIPA karishma.dipa@inl.co.za

IT WAS broad­cast­ing vet­eran and for­mer rugby star John Rob­bie’s au­then­tic­ity and com­i­cal na­ture which saw him be­ing se­lected to per­form in next year’s Snow White pan­tomime.

The for­mer talk ra­dio host will take on the role of Ma­jor Dumb-Ou of the Royal Palace of Cool Cor­nu­copia in Jan­ice Honeyman’s pro­duc­tion.

Honeyman, the writer and di­rec­tor of the mu­si­cal, said she was thrilled to have him in the cast as he had a lot to of­fer out­side of his usual skill set.

“I have lis­tened to John Rob­bie for years and loved his pas­sion, his hon­esty and his con­fronta­tion on con­tro­ver­sial is­sues,” she said.

“But I’ve since dis­cov­ered that there is also a great funny guy in there, keen to en­thu­si­as­ti­cally take on the hu­mour and top­i­cal­ity of our crazy panto pranks.

“In­side his rug­ger-bug­ger ex­te­rior lies a canny wit and a mis­chievous but mel­low in­te­rior.”

Honeyman added that Rob­bie was a down-to-earth per­son and that could work well for the en­tire pro­duc­tion. “He’s a lekker, nor­mal guy, not pre­ten­tious or pompous, and I can’t wait to share our mu­tual sense of the silly.”

Rob­bie is no stranger to the en­ter­tain­ment world.

As a rugby player, he won nine caps for Ire­land, and with the 1980 Bri­tish and Ir­ish Lions, played in the fourth Test against the Spring­boks.

Rob­bie im­mi­grated to the coun­try in the early 1980s and be­came a South African ci­ti­zen in 1994.

He won 83 caps for Transvaal and was voted one of the five SA Play­ers of the Year in 1987.

Apart from his play­ing feats, Rob­bie de­cided to take the plunge and join lo­cal talk ra­dio sta­tion 702 in 1986 as a sports re­porter.

He flour­ished and twice won the SA Sports Jour­nal­ist of the Year award, once for ra­dio and once for tele­vi­sion.

He is also an am­bas­sador for the Lau­reus Sport for Good Foun­da­tion.

In 1990, Rob­bie moved into cur­rent af­fairs on 702 and hosted the con­tro­ver­sial Talk at Ten Show, cul­mi­nat­ing in his host­ing the Break­fast Show for 17 years.

He found even more suc­cess here as he won both Best Morn­ing Host and Best Morn­ing Show awards on mul­ti­ple oc­ca­sions.

But af­ter 30 years on ra­dio, Rob­bie re­tired from the broad­cast­ing world ear­lier this year.

Although he has never been part of a stage pro­duc­tion, Rob­bie said he had fond mem­o­ries of them from his child­hood.

“For many years, my mom put on the Christ­mas pan­tomime in my home town of Grey­stones in Ire­land.

“As kids we had parts and I have never for­got­ten the fun of it all.”

He is de­lighted yet anx­ious to be a part of the ex­pe­ri­ence again, he said.

“Af­ter 30 years on 702, I have the chance to re­live it all again on the pro­fes­sional stage.

“I was thrilled when ap­proached by Bernard Jay and Jan­ice Honeyman, and although ter­ri­fied, ac­cepted read­ily.”

But he jok­ingly warned: “I don’t nor­mally sing and when I do, I don’t sing nor­mally.”

Honeyman’s Snow White “the fairest panto in the land” pro­duc­tion will make its re­turn to the stage next year af­ter a 10-year hia­tus.

It will be pro­duced by the Joburg Theatre and Bernard Jay and opens on The Man­dela stage on Novem­ber 11, 2018.

Tick­ets will be avail­able through webtick­ets.co.za and joburgth­e­atre. com from Novem­ber next year.

Fur­ther cast­ing for the 2018 pan­tomime will be an­nounced shortly.

PIC­TURE: CARA VIERECKL

GAME: John Rob­bie is ready for a try – at singing.

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