Rugby star Robbie to kick off in panto
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.
GAME: John Robbie is ready for a try – at singing.