"Those who don't believe in magic, will never find it..."
Madame Zingara, the theatrical dining spectacular, has re-found her magic in extravagant fashion with her latest offering, The Celebration, and we couldn’t be happier!
Staged in a grandiose, custom built three storey high Belgian spiegelpaleis tent, aptly named the Queen of Flanders, at the Grand Parade in Cape Town, this 15 year anniversary extravaganza, proves that founder Richard Griffin and his team of merry magic makers are back on top form with a smorgasbord of international and local fantastical acts that will keep guests enchanted and coming back for more.
At the media night on Thursday 9 July, 2015, we were whisked away to a land of love, wonder and fantasy from the minute we set foot on the welcoming red carpet.
Much like Doctor Who’s amazing Tardis, the tent’s humble entrance belies the true plethora of entertainment within… size is a deceiving illusion and it is even bigger on the inside! From the gorgeous Ms Cathy Specific and her welcoming helpers to the artfully-skilled face painters and little shop of magical props to of course, the stars of the evening, the best artists from more than 16 countries across the globe; The Celebration is the ultimate anniversary show like you’ve never seen before.
So, what sets The Celebration apart from its predecessor, the After Forever tour? A couple of things, actually – allow us to elaborate:
1) The acts are truly magical
Whilst in previous shows, the balance between pure magic and physical acts was askew, The Celebration delivers on top quality, amazing performers. Allow us a moment to gush about the gravity-defying aerial pole artist Saulo Sarmiento from Spain. Once you look past his amazing physique (yes ladies we are talking to you!), your jaw will drop at the sight of his absolutely perfect pole technique. He literally walks on air and he has the upper body strength and skill that allows him to become one with the pole in a manner that will make even the most skilled pole dancers Oz-coloured green with envy.
From seeing Sarmiento bend air with his acrobatic feats, time and space are bent too by local magician Jacques Le Sueur and his blink-and-you-miss it pick pocketing skills. Now you see your watch, now you don’t! Oh look, Cathy has some new accessories… look familiar? Jacques’ magic may have you gracing the Madame Z stage to go collect some items you have “misplaced”.
Impressed and ready to book your tickets yet? Wait, there is more! Pair all that with the mesmerizing performance of the diablo troupe from China, and you’re sure to be convinced that the magic of Zingara is alive and well. These poi performers with their unique eastern flair had everyone gasping in awe as they pulled out all the stops with their pyramids, jumps, catches and just near impossible accuracy.
The Quick Change dynamic duo from South Africa was incredible too – being magic aficionados, we’ve seen our fair share of quick on stage costume changes (keep an eye out for the split-second umbrella glitter change – it is freaking unbelievable!), but these two bring the purity of the art form back to life at The Celebration. The metamorphosis or sub trunk illusion (an act where the magician and assistant trade places in the blink of an eye, after being restrained with handcuffs within a trunk while momentarily covered by a curtain) is done so elegantly and quickly, it made us fall in love with magic all over again!
Oh and while we are on the topic of falling in love, have we mentioned the French acrobatic trio yet…? O la la, these charming wonders will have your full attention as they playfully glide through the air with great theatrical flair. These three could very easily have been performing at Cirque Du Soleil, they are that magnifico! We are also not kidding when we warn they are very, very charming. Be prepared to be pulled in for an impromptu photo with them as you exit the tent just before the clock strikes midnight as is the standard for every good fairytale.
2) The spirit of the cast is infectious
From Cathy and her Specifics, including the talented Emile Doubell as South Africa’s answer to Robin Thicke, to the waiting staff, the face painters, and the buskers; everybody is happy and living the love magic brand – it’s very inspiring and it makes you want to run away and join this charming circus. The infectious spirit is amplified by the return of the Hot Mr C and Rory Avenstrup as the enticing Lola. All of this, is beautifully pulled together with choreography by Sam Kotze and Craig Leo.
A special mention must go to our waiter, Peter. He was a bubbly, debonair chap who randomly showed up, dressed as a penguin, tin soldier and even Spiderman – with great service, comes a great responsibility to entertain it would seem!
Just be careful of the extremely generous waiters who like nothing more than sharing their tequila with unsuspecting patrons. Take our advice and book an Uber there and back, because these guys and girls will not take no as response to a tequila-tasting offer. Plus the cosmopolitans are possibly the best we have ever tasted!
3) The food is mouthgasm perfection
Besides the delectable canapés you are treated to upon arrival, the menu is a gastronomic dream! From amazing starter choices (we chose butternut gnocchi and pouched pearr and brie salad), to the trio of desserts, your taste buds are given their own private show too! The mains will turn even the most confident person into an indecisive kid in a candy store with everything ranging from steak and lamb to salmon delights. In the end we opted for the legendary Madame Zingara classic… chilli chocolate steak, and as Cathy would say, “It was to die for, Darling!”
4) The tent is incomparable
There’s no denying that the Theatre of Dreams was gorgeous, but the Queen of Flanders is out of this world, a true work of art. Bedecked in mirrors from top to bottom, the tent gives you the chance to watch the acts on stage in triplicate forms and adds to the circus-like feel of the show. The mirrors also amplify the gorgeous lighting design done by Mannie Manim. With new upper balconies, decadent bars (complete with ridiculously handsome barmen!), it gives it a touch of opulence you’d be hard-pressed to find at other dinner theatres. This all is best described as the Phantom of the Opera equivalent of dinner theatre; everything else just pales in comparison without a chandelier and the Queen of Flanders is one big magnificent chandelier that mystifies and delights.
5) The Aviation Goddess soars to impossible new heights
As performer Brendan van Rhyn foreshadowed in our Spotlight interview, Cathy, Zingara’s MC and resident aviation goddess was set to come back bigger and better than ever before and boy, did she deliver! Her gorgeous gigantic dresses are only surpassed in grandeur by her big musical performances (be prepared to take a jump to the left and step to the right when Cathy pays homage to her Frank-n-Furter personality with the Time Warp song) and gregarious stage presence. Don’t forget to get your must-have pic with Cathy after the show.
We need to stress that as much as The Celebration inspires child-like wonder, it’s not a kiddie-friendly show – the use of ‘inappropriate’ language, semi-nude performers and double innuendos make it a delightful adult-only playground. It’s best to rather leave the little ones at home for this one.
Madame Zingara’s 15th anniversary show, The Celebration, runs at the Grand Parade in Cape Town until 26 September, 2015. Don’t miss your chance to be amazed by this must-see fantastical extravaganza. Tickets range from R650 to R950 per person. Reserve yours at Madame Zingara’s Box Office, 0861 623 263 or email@example.com.
Keen for costume ideas? Check out our suggestions here.