Review: What’s Your Budget? Daniel Mpilo Richards and Tankiso Mamabolo in beautiful breathtakingly celebratory cabaret-tribute – to each other and live performance – through song, stories, comedy- fabulous

What’s Your Budget?

Featuring: Daniel Mpilo Richards and Tankiso Mamabolo 
When: October 11-15 2022, 8.15pm
Where: Baxter Golden Arrow Studio
Producer: DMR Productions  

Daniel is leaving on a plane. Daniel is Daniel Mpilo Richards- award winning star of stage and musical theatre in South Africa. [And there are his drama roles, his work as a director, film actor, creative head of charitable foundation, The Ruben Richards Foundation– and a lot more]. He leaves in three weeks (end of October 2022) to join his British wife, Daisy Doris May, in the UK. It has been a long wait for his spousal visa to come through. In the lead-up to his migration, he is singing and riffing with his friend and colleague, Tankiso Mamabolo  (also award winning) in their show What’s Your Budget? at the Baxter, Cape Town. It is a quickie run – opened last night, October 11 and is on until Saturday – October 15.

I was overwhelmed watching this stunningly crafted show – song, stories, comedy. It is a cabaret- tribute to each other- holding each other close over a decade of friendship – as friends- as artists – and holding others in the arts community. They talk about how they met at UCT and their experiences during the student Fallist protest movements, Feels Must Fall and Rhodes Must Fall. They talk about travel and their favourite places. They talk about Daniel meeting the love of his life and being proposed to on a Zipline in the Cape.

Tankiso speaks about her gratitude to Daniel and his family for providing her with a space – emotional and creative – to chill and create -at their citrus farm in Clanwilliam. She ate mangoes and ventured into speaking Afrikaans (not on her bucket list of fave languages). She tells us how the farm was a space for her and others and how the family nurtured Daniel and his friends during lockdown. Tank implored the audience on opening night, to enjoy the “export quality oranges” (from the farm), placed on the seats. There will be export quality oranges dotted around the theatre, during the course of the run, but not on every seat. Get into the theatre as soon as you can and nab your orange

What’s Your Budget? is filled with humour and love, with delicious lashings of self-deprecating asides by Tank. Watch her face and gestural language – OhMy. Love it. Throughout, they sing. They sing songs written by Daniel, songs by Tankiso, songs written as a duo. There is Yzerfontein – a song Daniel -co-wrote with his father-in-law, Simon May, the famous UK composer. Amongst his many accomplishments is writing the theme song for the British telly series – EastEnders. Daniel reflects that EastEnders is the UK’s version of South Africa’s 7de Laan.

Oh that voice -of Tanks. Totally wow. She is a sensation. And oh Daniel, playing multiple instruments, scattered across the stage. Tankiso tells us that Daniel taught himself to play piano, during lockdown and how awesome is that. The tremendous respect that these young artists have for each other is conveyed vividly in What’s Your Budget?

The narrative arc of this show has been intricately composed. The material is beautifully polished- songs, stories, funnies – all flow together. However, there is space for rejoinders from the audience. On the opening night, the audience ad-libbed, with spirited banter/heckling (yes, Faye Kabali-Kagwa, we loved your input). The title of the show references the challenges that Daniel and Tank have faced and face in the live performance industry – with the expectation of often being expected to work for ‘free’ or at ‘budget rates’, in exchange for exposure.  The armature of their friendship has kept her grounded, muses Tank. She will miss him madly- his talent, creativity, versatility – and his six-pack.  We all will miss him. We wish Daniel Mpilo Richards – export quality extraordinaire – all the best for his career and life in the UK. We know that he will light up the West End. We hope that he does a swallow number and travels to the Richards’ orange farm to bypass the winter months in England. We hope that he will be back to do musical theatre and to do gigs with Tankiso.

I wanted to take What’s Your Budget? home in my pocket. I wanted to bottle the songs and drink the songs and stories and laughs. I wanted a recording to listen to. Daniel and Tank – you are treasures of the industry. Your charisma, humour, talent is inspirational. Together you have created a knock-out a cabaret-comedy. Do not miss What’s Your Budget? Get there early for the export quality oranges. This is an export quality show. Fabulous. Fabulous. Loved it, madly.

Holding each other: Daniel Mpilo Richards and Tankiso Mamabolo. Their show, What’s Your Budget? is on at the Baxter, Cape Town- October 11-15 2022. Pic: Newton James. Supplied.
Export quality: Daniel Mpilo Richards with his mother, Carol Richards at the opening night of What’s Your Budget? at the Baxter, Cape Town. The show features Daniel and his friend and colleague, Tankiso Mamabolo. It is a show with song, stories, comedy – a cabaret- tribute to each other. The oranges in these pics are as Tankiso quips in the show, “export quality oranges” from the citrus farm, owned by the Richards family in Clanwilliam. Daniel is leaving for the UK in three weeks [end of October 2022]. He is emigrating and joining his wife there, so we have an export quality, brilliant star of musical theatre, leaving our shores for the UK. Pic
© TheCapeRobyn/Robyn Cohen, October 11, 2022.
Hold on to the orange: Daniel Mpilo Richards with Tankiso Mamabolo at the the opening night of, What’s Your Budget? at the Baxter, Cape Town, October 11-15 2022.
© TheCapeRobyn/Robyn Cohen, October 11, 2022.

✳ Daniel Mpilo Richards with Tankiso Mamabolo  at the the opening night of, What’s Your Budget? at the Baxter, Cape Town. Featured image © TheCapeRobyn/Robyn Cohen, October 11, 2022.