A unique magical musical and dinner show has opened at The Rainbow Room in Mandela Rhodes Place, in time for the festive season, as well as for tourists arriving in Cape Town. It is a unique way in which the his(story) of the establishment of Cape Town until the present day is told via music, dance and food.
Conceptualised by dynamic event co-ordinator Alison McCutcheon of event company Rainbow Experience Marketing, written by Deney Willie, directed by Godfrey Johnson (known for his Brel productions) and choreographed by ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ Didi Moses, the Cape Town Show is a â€˜Marvellous celebration of the people of the Cape, their history, freedom and magnanimous spirit of Ubuntu”. Talented young 19 and 20 years olds have been selected into The Rainbow Academy, and trained for the show. The Rainbow Academy allows its students “to earn while they learn” The show is hosted in a large space, perhaps too large initially until the audience size builds up, and is complemented with audio-visual images screened alongside the stage â€“ the vibrancy of the performers attracts one’s attention to the stage, so that one does not pick up much of the additional information on the screens. Images of Nelson Mandela flank the screens. The show with a three course dinner costs R295, and without dinner it costs R 120.
Prior to the first act one is served the starter, which is the most more-ish French-inspired Lavache crisp bread coated with black and white sesame seeds, served with hummus and a real Cape delicacy Cape snoek fish patÃ©. The first act focused on the arrival of the first visitors to the Cape, going as far back as 1488, with first arrival Bartholomew Diaz making a stop on his way from Portugal to the East. The cultures of the Dutch, German, French, Malaysian, Northern African peoples and other settlers is described, and the historical events of occupations and settlements, as well as the formation of the Union of South Africa in 1910 and of the Republic of South Africa in 1961 is narrated and sung. The songs chosen to tell the story were not all known, and included a David Kramer/Taliep Pietersen song from their musical â€˜Goem’, a very vibey 1930’s â€˜Get Happy’, and the emotive â€˜Meadowlands’. A Klopse scene includes standards such as â€˜Suikerbossie’, ‘Vat jou goed en trek Ferreira’ and more. District Six also makes an appearance in the show.
In the break, the main course is served, the orders for which are taken prior to the start of the show. Whilst not typically Cape, we ordered the dukkah-crusted beef fillet served on mash and spinach, with a very strongly spiced chakalaka sauce. The fillet was served perfectly as ordered, medium and medium rare for my colleague and for me, respectively. One has two other choices for the main courses, which are more Cape-like: vegetarian curried lentil cottage pie, and Cape butter chicken curry served with a homemade roll and sambas.
The second half of the show focused on the impact of the apartheid laws, the defiance of the population affected by them, and the freedom achieved for the nation, with soundbites of then-President FW de Klerk announcing the scrapping of all laws of segregation, and Nelson Mandela’s speech after his release from Victor Verster prison, saying that all South Africans have the “right to human dignity in our rainbow nation”. The show ended with the celebration of freedom and the spirit of Ubuntu. The music chosen for the second act included the well-known â€˜Pata Pata’, made famous by Miriam Makeba; Jeremy Taylor’s â€˜ Ag Pleez Deddy’ brought back nostalgic memories of a by-gone era of drive-in movies, popcorn and bubblegum!; â€˜Gimme Hope Jo’anna’; â€˜Paradise Road’ by Eddie Grant; and the national anthem â€˜Nkosi Sikelelel iAfrika’, presented in a vibey way.
Dessert is a sweet treat trio of a mini-koeksister, melktert and chocolate brownie. I had it with an excellent LavAzza cappuccino, a surprise, in that I was wondering where I would have to go to find one close by after the show. The catering is done in-house, with a contracted chef doing a great job in a tiny kitchen, we were told. The Beverage list is short and sweet, especially on the wine side, and very inexpensive. Wines-by-the-glass offered are M’Hudi Rea Dry at R20/R90, M’Hudi Kwea Red at R20/R90, and Excelsior Pure Bred Red R25/R100. No Shiraz is offered, with only one or two Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinotage options. Pongracz Brut costs R150, and 2 Oceans RosÃ© R 20/R90. Amstel, Castle, Windhoek Lager and Windhoek Lite all cost R16; Heineken, Peroni and Millers, Hunter’s Dry and Savannah cost R17; and Jack Black costs R20.
A surprise was when the cast came back on the stage for an un-announced encore, singing real Cape classics such as â€˜Daar kom the Alabama’, â€˜Dina Dina Oh’, as well as Ipi Tombi.
The Cape Town Show is a great way for locals to be reminded of the colourful and often painful history of the Cape, and the rich heritage it has. It is also a quick way for tourists to learn about the history of our country, and have a memorable evening, enjoying Cape culture and food. The audience enjoyed the enthusiasm of the performers, and were captivated by the music. There are a few teething problem, like waiter training and understandability of all the words in the spoken story, but as it is early days for the show, they are sure to be addressed.
Disclosure: As a member of the Food & Wine Bloggers” Club, having attended the October meeting which was hosted by the Rainbow Experience, we received complimentary tickets to the Cape Town Show.
Cape Town Show, The Rainbow Room, Mandela Rhodes Place, Wale Street, Cape Town. Tel 072 875 9723. Book at www.webtickets.co.za. Wednesday and Friday evenings. Doors open at 19h00, show starts at 20h00.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage