On stage: CabaretFest Cape Town 2021, at The Baxter, produced by Wela Kapela Productions

What: CabaretFest 2021- four cabarets – 60 minutes each

Where: Baxter Golden Arrow Studio Dates: September 22 to October 8, 2021

Times: 7.30pm and Saturday matinees at 2.30pm
Booking: Webtickets via the Baxter website. Click here: http://www.baxter.co.za/cabaret

Tickets: R125 and R100 – schools, block bookings and seniors
Info: Amanda Bothma 082 524 4449 or e-mail welakapelaproductions@gmail.com   

The cabarets are:   Mad About the Boys – September 22-25 and October 9 Damsel in Distress – September 24-29 A Star is Born – September 30 to October 2 The Story of Eva Cassidy– October 6-8

Director: Amanda Bothma      

Amanda Bothma of Wela Kapela Productions is thrilled to be presenting four cabarets at the Baxter Golden Arrow Studio – from September 22 to October 8, 2021. Wela Kapela Productions is based in East London. Three of the cabarets have been presented online at The National Arts Festival [NAF] on its vFringe (Virtual Fringe) platform, but have not been staged in Cape Town, on stage, in a theatre. Two of the cabarets have won Ovation Awards at the NAF. The Story of Eva Cassidy is premiering at CabaretFest. Cape Town audiences will be the first to see this new show, starring Kerry Hiles who evokes the life of the late American singer, Eva Cassidy, who became famous after her death (melanoma) in 1996, age 33. Kerry Hiles is a fan of the singer. Intrigued by the trajectory of Eva Cassidy’s life, work and retrospective fame, she approached Amanda Botha with the idea of creating a cabaret. Botha researched the singer and wrote the script. Cape audiences will be the first to see Hiles step into Eva Cassidy’s shoes – an afterlife of fame. The show has not been presented online or in a performance venue CabaretFest is launching this new cabaret for Cape Town audiences.

Amanda Bothma has written and directs the four cabarets that we will see CabaretFest. This veteran theatre maker works extensively with The Guild Theatre in East London and is passionate about the genre of cabaret. During the pandemic and lockdown, she was cognisant of assisting artists to create solo cabarets, with an accompanist. Props may be packed into a suitcase and the artists are able to travel around the country to present shows – to keep production costs as low as possible. Working in Covid, with limited seating due to Covid, it is critical to make the production budgets as lean as possible. For CabaretFest, at the Baxter, Kerry Hiles is performing in two cabarets – A Star is Born (September 30 to October 2) and The Story of Eva Cassidy (October 6-8).

In addition to CabaretFest, Wela Kapela Productions is also presenting Liewe Heksie at the Baxter and that production stars award winning Cara Roberts (last seen, at The Drama Factory in The King of Broken Things) and Daniel Anderson. See: https://thecaperobyn.co.za/theatre-interview-beloved-little-witch-liewe-heksie-will-be-on-stage-at-the-baxter-2021/

Anderson is also starring in Mad About the Boys at CabaretFest. Bravo to Wela Kapela Productions, for bringing CabaretFest, during Covid. I was fortunate to watch A Star is Born online at vFringe in 2020. I was very moved by the beautiful production which conveyed the tumultuous life of Judy Garland. In a sense, the song, Somewhere over the Rainbow, has become almost like an anthem song, during the pandemic; expressing the yearning that things will be get better, somewhere over the rainbow. Link to review on TheCapeRobyn: https://thecaperobyn.co.za/review-a-star-is-born-the-judy-garland-story-kerry-hiles/ At vNAF 2021, I watched the Damsel in Distress and Mad About The Boys and enjoyed both immensely– entertaining and escapist shows. Damsel in Distress received an Ovation Award and is very much a story about aspiration and hope – with the message to be brave and step out of one’s comfort zone and embrace life. Daniel Anderson is a delight to watch in his tribute, Mad About The Boys as he croons songs by Cole Porter, Noel Coward and Ivor Novello and provides us insights into their lives.

CabaretFest Cape Town 2021- four cabarets – 60 minutes each at Baxter Golden Arrow Studio  

Booking link for the cabarets: http://www.baxter.co.za/cabaret- click on the show that you want to see on The Baxter website and it will take you to Webtickets

About the cabarets  

Mad About the Boys – September 22-25 and October 9, 2021 Daniel Anderson’s tribute cabaret to Cole Porter, Noel Coward and Ivor Novello. He is accompanied on piano by Germaine Gamiet and weaves in vignettes about these style icons, together with some of their iconic songs. Stylish props are used to provide create the vibe glam the 1920s and 30s, when these crooners charmed audiences with their dapper, suave personas. They donned smoking jackets, brandished silver cigarette lighters and enchanted their fans with their lives of luxury and decadence.   Booking link: http://www.baxter.co.za/cabaret    

Damsel in Distress – September 24-29, 2021 Alison Hillstead is accompanied on piano by Nathan Johannisen in this cabaret set in a library with the protagonist, Griselda who has not left the library for four years. The show won a Standard Bank Ovation Award at The National Arts Festival vFringe, 2021. The show is filled with fun and mirthful moments and presents a wry take on the fact that women are often undermined in society, side-lined and undervalued. Griselda is named after the ‘damsel in distress in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. She transcends the limitations of her life of isolation, through books such as the Great Gatsby and through song, she expresses her yearning to explore the world and find herself. There are wonderful songs from Cabaret – the film/musical – which Hillstead sings with tremendous passion.   Booking link: http://www.baxter.co.za/cabaret  

A Star is Born – September 30 to October 2, 2021, 2021 Kerry Hiles’ stirring tribute to Judy Garland – her life and songs – received a Standard Bank Ovation Award at the National Arts Festival in 2019 – before Covid – ie the show was staged, with an audience. A recording rekeyed another Ovation Award at The National Arts Festival vFringe, 2020. Booking link: http://www.baxter.co.za/cabaret  

The Story of Eva Cassidy– October 6-8, 2021 This is the premiere of this cabaret, a homage to Eva Cassidy, starring Kerry Hiles, accompanied by guitarist, Alan Kozak. Eva Cassidy was an American singer and guitarist. She died in 1996, when she was 33, from a melanoma. Two years after her death, her music received attention when it was played on BBC Radio and that led to the posthumous release of three albums and success on hit parades around the world.   Booking link: http://www.baxter.co.za/cabaret    
Alison Hillstead as Griselda in Damsel in Distress. Pic: Allen Eason.
Daniel Andersen in Mad about the Boys. Pic: Allen Eason.
Kerry Hiles in The Story of Eva Cassidy. Pic: Allen Eason.

❇ Promoted post. This interview has been marginally edited for length and clarity. Featured image: Kerry Hiles in A Star is Born. Images supplied.