Pumpkin Finds Her Kindness – The Play

Where and when: Artscape Arena December 15 to 23, 2023 
Times: 10.30 and 12.15
Tickets: R120 through Webtickets
Script: Bianca Flanders and Dean Balie – based on The Pumpkin books by Bianca Flanders (the three books are on sale at the venue)
Original music: Dean Balie
Director: Nico Scheepers
Cast: Bianca Flanders, Dean Balie, Miché van Wyk and Pumpkin puppet
Duration: 45 minutes  

Things do not always go the way one hopes and the challenge is to rise above disappointment and be happy for others. This is at the core of the beautifully upbeat children’s musical theatre play, Pumpkin Finds Her Kindness. The play features the adorable Pumpkin character from the series of Pumpkin books by award winning actor and musical theatre star, Bianca Flanders. The books (English and Afrikaans) are on sale at the venue. Flanders stars in Pumpkin Finds Her Kindness with her husband, award winning actor and musical theatre star, Dean Balie. They are joined by Miché van Wyk and a munchkin Pumpkin puppet, zany props (love the wig), colourful set and fun lighting.

Pumpkin Finds Her Kindness is charming, sparkling, entertaining theatre for children, with a lovely message of kindness, friendship and hope. Many children’s theatre production err on ladling messages out too liberally and others are total fluff with no substance. Pumpkin Finds Her Kindness strikes up the balance with care and tenderness – just enough feel-good message and a lot of fun and energy.  

The script is tight (by Flanders and Balie) and pared down to the essentials. There is some audience participation – but not too much. This can get mawkish in children’s shows. There is just enough to immerse the kids in the narrative. The ebullient and vivacious Flanders is beguiling in how she draws the youngsters into the story. The original music by Balie is a delight. Balie operates the Pumpkin Puppet (made by Merryn Carver) and voices her. Pumpkin does a knock out rap song when she enters a talent competition. Miché van Wyk is fabulous as she joins Flanders and Balie in transfiguring the vibrant characters in the play. I won’t plot spoil. Suffice to say that there is nothing scary in this charming piece of theatre. Stunning songs and the script crackles along, under the deft direction of Nico Scheepers. I left the theatre with a smile and so did the others in the audience.

At 45 minutes, Pumpkin Finds Her Kindness is timed in synch with the concentration span for the small fry. I did not see any restless kids in the audience. They were transfixed. Afterwards, I chatted to a five year old and an eight year. They loved the show. I saw this show, late in the run, so this is a quickie review. With the singing talents of the cast, quirky characters and songs, fun costumes and props, set, lighting and adorable Pumpkin puppet, Pumpkin Finds Her Kindness – The Play – is a must see. On until December 23 at 10.30pm and 12.15pm in the Artscape Arena.

✳ Miché van Wyk, Bianca Flanders and Dean Balie in Pumpkin Finds Her Kindness The Play. Pic by Jeremeo le Cordeur.