There are some events and experiences that become more than simply reviews for me. For example, our time at La Colombe has now instilled some sort of emotional connection in me. Now, also, with Brendan van Rhyn.
We first met him in Rocky Horror a few years ago, before being introduced to him a the fabulous Cathy Specific at last year’s Madame Zingara extravaganza. Now, after seeing him at his new home – Gate 69 – I now feel emotionally invested in his success.
Let’s start with the basics – Gate 69 is a cabaret theatre venue, however, the show currently playing – Hedwig and the Angry Inch – is not a cabaret. I’d say it’s actually quite a serious musical. So, while I’d highly recommend a night at Gate 69, if you’re looking for a laugh-a-minute acerbic drag show, then I’d suggest waiting until December, when the show has changed.
Now, back to the evening. We entered down a red carpet and were met by the fabulous Cathy herself. The downstairs area encompasses a large bar area, from which you head up a few stairs to a mezzanine lounge. From there, more stairs will take you to the floor-level seating, with even more taking you to the intimate balcony – where we would enjoy the evening.
In a word, the venue is just gorgeous. Plush purples and golds, with brocade wallpaper, fresh flowers – and Cathy’s face plastered absolutely everywhere – it’s fabulous, while still remaining chic.
The evening is based around the concept of dinner theatre, with your ticket including a mezze-style meal, enjoyed platter-style in the middle of your table. We enjoyed a selection of pates (fish and chicken liver), two types of humus, meatballs, fish, crudités, brie with red onion relish and poached pears, grapes, strawberries and olives. As if this wasn’t enough, there’s also a warm bread service that comes to each table, with the soup of the evening – we were served roasted tomato. It was quite the feast – and try as we might, we left our platter unfinished.
It’s recommended that you arrive at 19h00, to enjoy a drink and sit down to dinner, before the show starts at 20h00 – although drinking and eating during the performance is allowed. There is no wine with the meal at this stage, so you are welcome to bring your own.
And, picking up that theme of honesty and identity – and a bit of background as to why Gate 69 and Brendan now have my unwavering support: In the introduction to the show, Brendan – as Cathy – spoke about what the opening of Gate 69 means to him, and how people have commented how lucky he is to now be living his “dream”. His reply gave me goosebumps – he said that if he was living his dream, he’d be a paediatrician, with impeccable bedside manner, of course. But, now, he was not now living his dream – he was living his truth. The bravery and emotion that came with that simple sentence knocked me.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch is on from 15 September to 27 November 2016. Tickets are R550 and include a welcome drink, a mezzo platter and a hot bread service. Bookings through the box office on 071 589 2915 or online. Strictly no persons under 16 years of age.
Brendan will be premiering his show, Cathy and the Trolley Dollies in December introducing the cabaret line-up for next year.
Cast photographs taken by Pat Bromilow-Downing. We enjoyed the evening as guests of Gate 69. All views and other images are my own.