Pieter-Dirk Uys in Bambi Kellermann in Kaberet November and December 2023, with Godfrey Johnson at the piano  

Where and when:

Olympia Bakery, Kalk Bay: November 28, 29
Booking link: https://qkt.io/HWJfcg
Or phone: 0828920350  

The Wave Theatre Cafê, Long Street: November 30 and December 1
Booking link: https://catchthewave.co.za/tc-events/bambi-kellermann-in-kabaret/  

Milnerton Playhouse, Milnerton: December 3
Booking link: https://milnertonplayers.co.za/bambi-kellermann-in-kabaret/  
Die Boer, Durbanville: 6 December
Booking link: https://dieboer.com/event/1oE/booking
Die Koelkamers, Paternoster: December 9
Booking link: https://www.diekoelkamers.com/events/BambiKellermaninkabaretDIEKOELKAMERS      

I saw a true gentle and special performance last night and I was moved to tears – in a good way. I saw Bambi Kellermann in Kaberet (aka Pieter-Dirk Uys) with Godfrey Johnson at the piano in Kalk Bay at the Olympia Bakery (behind the Olympia Café). “Where have all the good politicians and statesmen gone” in this sad and mad world of ours?  This is Bambi’s refrain in this beautiful show.  Bambi is the ultimate entertainer who always pleases and teases her customers and she does this in this show- making us laugh at her wry sense of humour. Within the mirth, is her despair. Bambi is flummoxed, enraged and deeply saddened and this is reflected in some of her favourite songs that she sings in this Kabaret – including Sondheim, Kurt Weill, Marlene Dietrich and songs from the F.A.K songbook [The Federasie van Afrikaanse Kultuurvereniginge Songbook]. There is a mix of English, Afrikaans and smatterings of German. Some songs have been tweaked with changes in lyrics. The songs have been masterfully arranged by Godfrey Johnson who is at the piano and sings one song (I would like more please).

Bambi has always maintained that laughter is essential and that has sustained her in her peripatetic life as the black sheep of the family; the younger sister of the famous Mrs Evita Bezuidenhout. Bambi (born Bayby Poggenpoel) skedaddled from South Africa in 1957, fleeing Bethlehem in the Orange Free State, for Germany, where she lived with her husband who she discovered; after they married, was a Nazi. They canoodled with Kurt Weill and his wife in Germany. They fled to Argentina and smoozed with the likes of the Nazi murderer, Mengele – “The monster”.  Bambi does not sanitise language:  A monster is a monster.

Bambi always shares her story in her kabarets with Godfrey Johnson and the rivalry with Evita. In this show, the chit-chat has been pruned down to an essence and it’s the songs that are foregrounded. Bambi is in fine voice and Johnson (a classically trained pianist- South African College of Music at UCT) is magnificent as his fingers glide over the keys of the piano (a proper piano – not keyboards).

In the past, as I recall when I have seen Bambi in Kaberet, she has cantilevered a lot of her material off Evita. In this Kaberet, Bambi is taking centre stage and is magnificent with her finesse of the cabaret medium, retrained, considered with minimum of gestures. I was reminded of Edith Piaf – with the slight fluttering of the hands – and stillness and focus. Bambi has always been the notorious sister of Evita – the stripper, sex worker and family slut. She enjoyed it and revelled in titillating and shocking her audiences. In this Kabaret Cape Town 2023, I get a sense that Bambi has been slapped – but not in a good way. The pleasure has been depleted. I think that we can all relate in this ruptured world of ours. Where have all the good men gone- as Bambi croons? Where are the good politicians and statesmen and why is there silence in this world of convenient amnesia and accountability with memory a nebulous construct?

Bambi and Godfrey Johnson in Kaberet 2023 is a poignant and tender show, wrapped in humanity, warmth and lovely moments of release through laughter.  I loved this show so much that I want to go again. I hope that after this tour wraps up, that Bambi and Godfrey in Kabaret will do an encore season.

Bambi and Godfrey were at the Olympia Bakery last night (November 29) and the night before (November 28). Tonight (November 30) they are on at The Wave Theatre Cafê, Long Street and also tomorrow – December 1- which is World Aids Day. The scourge of AIDS is close to Bambi’s heart and this should be a special performance. The Kaberet will be on at the Milnerton Playhouse (Dec 3), Die Boer, Durbanville (December 6) and Die Koelkamers, Paternoster (December 9). Booking links above, in box. Please, do not miss the brilliant PDU as Bambi Kellermann.

Life is a Kaberet: Bambi Kellermann by © R Lord.
Bambi Chronicles: Godfrey Johnson and Bambi Kellermann (Pieter-Dirk Uys) after their Kaberet, at the Fugard Theatre, September 2011. (The Fugard closed during the pandemic and now operates as The Homecoming Centre). Pic: © Robyn Cohen/TheCapeRobyn.

✳ Featured image of Godfrey Johnson and Bambi Kellermann, with flask. Pic © R Lord. Supplied.