Theatre Interview: Noni Mkhonto – Playing The Blue, Or Doing What Any Mentor Wood

April 6, 2024

 

By BRUCE DENNILL

 

Disney’s My Son Pinocchio Jr at the Peoples Theatre features the beloved classic songs ‘When You Wish Upon a Star’ and ‘I’ve Got No Strings’, alongside a host of songs by Oscar- and Grammy Award-winner and master melodist Stephen Schwartz, tackling timely issues about what it means to be the perfect child – and what it means to be a real father.
Pinocchio is filled with a mixture of magic, suspense, fun and excitement. The little wooden puppet who, after a series of adventures, is magically brought to life by the Blue Fairy, must show that he is brave, honest and unselfish before he can
become a real boy. Noni Mkhonto plays the Blue Fairy.

 

Live performance: the thrill versus the nerves – where are you on that curve as a new show starts?

On the side of the thrill! Starting a new show is always exhilarating, knowing that I get to improve the more shows I do.

 

How do you find a balance during rehearsals or other preparation?

Once I start rehearsals I tend to go MIA from my daily life, especially my social life, so that I can focus on learning lines, developing my character and being fresh and focused on stage.

 

In a best-case scenario, what are you looking for in a role? What is the main basis for that decision – the script, the people involved, the challenge to your skills, the impact (positive or negative) it might have on your life in general, or perhaps something else?

I look for a character with heart and who has a storyline that the audience can relate to, a character that the audience can learn from, and a character that challenges me.

 

Acting is often a vocation, a thing you can’t not do. How true is that for you now? Has it changed over the years – for practical, perhaps banal reasons? And how do you, or would you like to, keep your calling front and centre in your life?

My calling towards acting has not changed much over the years, but I have noticed that the industry has changed slightly. However, I have managed to adapt well. Over the years and through my different acting roles I have learned that  having passion for this industry is what drives you. It has been challenging at times to get work as it is a highly competitive industry, but I have been privileged enough to have had constant, quality work over the years, playing many different roles in the entertainment industry in musical theatre, dubbing, podcasting, master of ceremonies, singing live at events and so on .

 

What are the toughest expectations to deliver on – all the way from the first audition to the end of the run?

Staying true to the character regardless of what life throws at you outside of the role. At times, personal life challenges can be hard to put aside, but as a professional when I get on stage I have to deliver my best. As a performer the routine of a show can cause one to get comfortable but I always remind myself that each audience is seeing the show for the first time so I have to deliver the performance as if it’s an opening show every show.

 

Tell us about your current production, and what makes your character interesting to play?

In the Peoples Theatre production of Disney’s My Son Pinocchio, the character that I play is the Blue Fairy. What I love about her is that she uses her magic powers to transform into other multiple characters in order to assist Pinocchio in his quest to become a real boy. The different characters symbolise different attributes and challenges that real boys or children have – for example being mischievous, being boisterous, having to decide between right and wrong and learning about listening to your conscience and not allowing temptation to lead you from your path. The reason I love this role is that she is patient and persistent with Pinocchio, which teaches audiences about loyalty and never giving up on your dreams.

 

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