Review: Sizzle- sizzles at Kalk Bay Theatre with potent mix of astounding speciality acts, burlesque, comedy and dance igniting Cape Town summer, festive season 2022/23

Sizzle – variety, burlesque, comedy, dance

Featuring: Ashley Searle, Vanessa Harris, Brad Searle, Nathi Mazwai, Jessica Köhler, Bronwyn Craddock, Sibu Sodo and Megan Spencer (vocalist)
When:  Bookings up to end of January, 2022.  8.30pm – Thurs-to Sat. Warm up act with vocalist, Megan Spencer from 8.15pm
Tickets: R280 at via Quicket
Info: WhatsApp 066 205 5063
Age restriction: No under 18s
Producer: Followspot Productions

Every festive season, Followspot Productions stages a dazzling cirque/variety/dance/cabaret show at the Kalk Bay Theatre in Cape Town. For the summer of 2022/23, they are sizzling with Sizzle. Followspot -aka Ashley Searle, Vanessa Harris- are the proprietors of the theatre – which is on the premises of iconic The Brass Bell Restaurant. It’s not mandatory to eat in the Bell, before but diners get preferential seating at the KBT. It adds up to a seamless dinner/theatre experience all up – dining at the Bell and then making your way into the theatre for a magical evening of entertainment- in a theatre perched on the ocean. Windows are open and one can hear the waves lapping. It is an extraordinary experience- out of this world. By the way, the theatre is equipped with a generator, so no problem in terms of loadshedding issues.

Sizzle is booked out until mid-January but you can try your luck and go on wait-list by WhatsApping the number in the box above. There is a show on New Year’s Eve – ie Saturday December 31 – and yup- it is sold out – but again – get onto wait-list by WhatsApp. When we were there, diners from the Brass Bell, were trying their luck to get seats, last minute. They were flummoxed that the theatre was fully seated. It is amazing that this little independent theatre has built up a fanbase and deservedly so as its offerings are top notch and the production values are extended for each show. Considerable investment has gone into conceptualising and building props for Sizzle and in creating the costumes. For instance, Jennifer Carbutt of Studio Kasuga, designed and made the costumes for the quick change act (more of that to follow), using Obi silk in some of the outfits.

Sizzle follows on the rapturous success of the KBT’s After Dark, last festive season (2021/2022). It is a scrumptious sizzle up of speciality acts, comedy, dance and music- with a mirror illusion which is sublime in its precisions and artistry (with the sensation Bronwyn Craddock). There is the bath act. Splish splash, I do not want to plat spoil. The performers are Brad Searle and Jessica Köhler- masterful precision and beautifully choreographed (Searle and Harris). Highly considered choreo underpins the whole show – on the pole, in the bath, on the ladder, on the ropes (as in skipping).

There is a ladder dinghus (ditto- don’t want to spoil) which swings and is playful and sexy (that’s all I am telling you). I loved the zany quick-change act with Vanessa Harris and Ash Searle, with an ooolah lah surprise. Did we say that this show is not for under 18s- uhhm yes. There were some gasps and squeals from the audience. Ash and Van are the hosts and are- as always fabulous. As hosts, they are garbed in mad leopard print outfits – cave-people garb- hideously amazing. The Ash dude character is named Marco and the Van dudesss is named V- “stands for anything that you want it to be”, quips Harris. Vocalist Megan Spencer is new to the KBT family and she brings an operatic vibe to the show, which is different from previous festive season shows and brings in an interesting new dimension – mashing up genres.

Sizzle veers into the burlesque, naughty and impish. If you are of the Tannie Grandy brigade, this is not for you. I love KBT festive season shows and Sizzle charmed me with acts that I have not seen before and other acts which reference previous KBT offerings. For instance, the quick change and bath acts, ping off the infamous towel act that Brad and Ash have done in the past – flashing flesh – the conceal and the increasing reveal. There is a lot more reveal in Sizzle. That is all I am saying. Mention must be made to the skipping act- featuring Bradley Searle, Nathi Mazwai and Sibu Sodo. The skipping is not only about skill, dexterity and craft but also about the rapport and humour between the artists. It is the kind of act one would see in Vegas or in a top cirque outfit, abroad. You can see it in Cape Town, in Sizzle, if you can get a ticket. Actually, stop reading now and book from mid-January. Oh- must add: There is an audience participation quickie – lots of fun. Gents (it is a man-thing) – if you don’t want to be nabbed to go on stage- don’t sit in the front row. Bravo Ash, Van, Brads and team KBT/Followspot. If you are visiting Cape Town, Sizzle is an essential must-see.

Mirror illusion: This astounding act, performed by Bronwyn Craddock, riffs of synchronized swimming – not going to tell you more. Go and be dazzled, in Sizzle, Kalk Bay Theatre, Cape Town summer 2022/2023. Pic supplied.
Skipping medley: Neon dynamics with skipping ropes. This is a cirque act of excellence with incredible dexterity and fabulous comic banter and physical comedy in Sizzle, Kalk Bay Theatre, Cape Town summer 2022/2023. Supplied.
The hosts of Sizzle: The ebullient and amazing Vanessa Harris and Ash Searle – in Cave-person gear- introducing acts and rollicking with their signature ribbing off each other, in Sizzle, Kalk Bay Theatre, Cape Town summer 2022/2023. Supplied.

✳ Featured image: Nathi Mazwai, Bradley Searle and Jessica Kohler in Sizzle, Kalk Bay Theatre, Cape Town summer 2022/2023. Supplied.