Not a city that stands idly by, Pretoria is probably the most consistently diverse city in the country, for its sheer range of activities and stage events. You might well be able to do quarts at the rave last weekend and be sitting at the Baxter theatre by the end of the same week if you live in Cape Town, for example. Every major city has an established theatrical regime. But In Pretoria, there’s less “maybe” and more ongoing entertainment.
From rockers to ravers to raving loonies, you’ll find them all on stage in Pretoria a lot more regularly than most other South African cities. For sheer range, the opera, ballet and classical renditions hold their corner for the traditional theatre goer, while almost any other kind of musical or performance experience fleshes out that entrenched theatre community. The recent Spaza 012 Trading Card Game development is also strong testament to Pretoria’s vibrant entertainment scene.
Some shows to catch in 2019
Genuine, is a show by Jonathan, and promises to be a hoot and a blast. Delighting audiences with his unique brand of quizzical theatre, those who enjoy his take on life will want to catch Jonathan at the Sun Arena on 23 February 2019. Of course, for many, the real big Pretoria event for the first half of the year will be AKA performing with a 30-piece ensemble at Times Square in mid-March.
The enigmatic rapper AKA will wow the audience at the Sun Arena on 17 March 2019. For the first time in this country, a rapper will take to the stage with a massive musical ensemble, and it should be a singular treat and one not to be missed by many music fans.
We know – the kids – those people who also demand entertainment and frequently get in the way of yours! Well, for kids of all ages, Disney on Ice is coming to Pretoria for the first time ever this year. From 14 June to 14 July 2019, a number of Disney shows will be hosted in Pretoria. Disney’s Magical Ice Festival really goes to town and, for bored adults, the sheer athleticism of the performers on ice and the extent of the presentation should still captivate.
Classics is Groot is at Times Square again on 19 July 2019. The lineup includes such names as Elvis Blue, Jonathan Roxmouth, Jannie Moolman, Corlea, Amira and Boki, Tarryn Lamb and Monique Steyn. Other notables include Touch of Class and Kevin Leo, and these events typically give fans of all ages a thrill. For a rollicking good time, definitely not one to miss. There’s a Saturday show too, on 20 July 2019, so look and book online carefully.
Become a friend of the 2019 Pretoria theatre scene
Even if you’re not a fanatical theatre goer, it’s worth subscribing to Pretoria’s many theatres’ mailing lists and other notifications. While fliers announce raves and the radio also punts them and other musical events, the alerts you’ll get from established Pretoria theatres are also very worthwhile. Many avant garde acts will also be publicised by the mainstream theatres, and in familiarising yourself with them, you’ll lead onto other entertainment portals that will keep you covered.
Scrolling through Viagogo and Computicket is also useful behaviour, although Computicket’s current IT is such that it struggles to narrow things down to Gauteng, and much more so Pretoria. Computicket has taken a step backwards in onsite navigation, and that’s not a good thing.
The State Theatre
Although more usually associated with ballets, opera and other formalised drama, the State Theatre has and continues to play a leading role in the development of the performing arts. The theatre has a range of venues and offers some really gritty and soothing entertainment throughout the year. Fashion shows and other events regularly happen there too.
The Atterbury Theatre
Surprisingly not a theatre widely known for its superb acoustics, this venue nonetheless does indeed make for some stellar musical performances. Its sophisticated design makes for excellent acoustics, and it’s physical size and shape have contributed to some really impressive musical experiences.. A very well positioned theatre, Atterbury is close to much that one would expect when taking in an evening of theatre, and also capable of a huge diversity of shows in any given year.
The Brooklyn Theatre
Admittedly one more for traditional fare, the Brooklyn also has remarkable acoustics, and a musical concert at the venue is impactful, to say the least. For years a poor cousin to other Pretoria theatres, Brooklyn is a well kept secret, as shows are prolific and diverse.
Extensively employed by TUT for a host of student activities, the Breytenbach is another extremely diverse and worthwhile venue to keep tabs on. Every now and then, a truly maverick offering will come along, but the theatre is busy year-round as a given.
Three other theatres are also worth mentioning. Again for parents, you might want to keep tabs on the Pierneef Theatre. A frequent host of children’s plays, the lineup usually stretches from there all the way through to national productions starring household names. This is a great family theatre and one where you’re able as often as not to take the kids along. The Little Theatre at UNISA has a solid reputation for dance and traditional theatre shows, another venue worth staying current on. There are often diverse events here, and Madiba himself paid the theatre a visit in 2005 during the Mahube HIV benefit concert.
Last but by no means least for Pretoria’s residents, the Centurion Teater is just around the corner too. Apart from cabaret and other standard fare, events and conferences can be hosted here, and various artists have also launched CDs from the venue. A cozy and professional establishment, many local corporates stage events here, while the program of standard theatre remains full throughout the year too.