The beloved Afrikaans comedy, Vetkoekpaleiswill soon be back on the box office and the public now has the opportunity to literally be in the front row of the action.
Ten episodes of Vetkoekpaleis II will be recorded live in front of an audience at the AfriForum Theater in Pretoria between September and October this year.
This revival is directed by brothers Willie and Pieter Esterhuizen, who were responsible for the original series, and promises to make audiences fall in love with this fast food shop’s colorful characters all over again.
“Willie and I long for the old days, and by chance it works (to record in front of audiences). The audience is your sounding board and they only laugh when something is funny to them. The actors also work harder when it comes to an audience recording, because on stage or in front of an audience you only get one chance,” Pieter tells RNews.
Although the SABC owns the original series, which was shown on the box office between 1996 and 2001, the Esterhuizens have copyright because Willie wrote the scripts.
That is why the latest installment is a revival or “reboot” as is often the case with American series such as Full House, Dallas, Magnum PI and many more have already been done.
“Nothing stops us from redoing the program again. It’s the same story, but just with different players and characters. We’re just in the privileged position of being able to deploy some of the characters in some of the older roles.”
In Vetkoekpaleis 2 “Klein Frikkadel”, son of the late Zack du Plessis and Hélene Truter’s characters, Frik and Poppie, ran the Vetkoekpaleis into the abyss while his mother lived by the sea.
However, Uncle Wors, played by Willie, together with his wife, Molly (Lizz Meiring), intervenes to restore the restaurant to its full glory. Boeboe’s daughter, “Boudjies”, will also slip into the characteristic yellow and blue uniform.
“Furthermore, everything remains the same. We just renew the set and time,” explains Pieter.
The actor Wynand van Vollenstee, who steps into “Klein Frikkadel’s” big shoes, says this role is “a dream come true.”
“There are few things that the Esterhuizens touched that did not become national property. It’s comedy for our pond’s ducks and it’s an absolute honor to be a part of it.”
Willie believes that the original series’ honesty and authenticity captivated viewers at the time.
Pieter agrees and adds that families could relate to the characters. “The Van Tonders felt like housemates to many viewers. The values that were upheld and portrayed in the series are still applicable to this day.”
The series will be shown on AfriForumTV, a free streaming service.
RNews reported earlier that the Esterhuizens’ other hit series, Orkney Snoring doesn’tis also available on this platform.
To celebrate this, the cast of the comedy reunited last year on the AfriForum Theatre’s stage for a special live reunion event, which was also recorded and can be watched on this streaming platform.
According to Pieter, it was precisely the SABC’s decision to Vetkoekpaleis on YouTube which made him decide to target online and streaming platforms as well as their younger viewers.
The brothers are also not afraid of criticism, which will be revived as much as possible.
“If I had to show you the reviews that the newspapers at the time and even people in the industry left us Vetkoekpaleis snuck up, you’d swear Willie and I had the worst back then, least program made on earth. Their favorite slogan was ‘popular is not good’. Fortunately, the people who mattered to us, our TV viewers, disagreed with them.”
He encourages audiences to be part of the live recordings and see a piece of TV history come to life for themselves.
“Me, Willie, the older actors and even crew members appreciate the privilege of being part of such a project, because we have done enough productions against our will just to survive in the entertainment industry. On top of that, being able to work in Afrikaans and laugh without feeling guilty is nice.”
Of course such a big project causes a few butterflies in the stomach.
“Willie and I always worry ourselves to death before time. That’s just how it works. As a producer, you are never ever sure that your audience will support and appreciate your work. But everyone, from production and admin, to the actors give their best, then one can’t help but walk out the other side with a success.”
- Tickets for the live tapings of Vetkoekpaleis is for sale here.
Watch RNews’s interview with Willie Esterhuizen and Wynand van Vollenstee here: