BWW Review: CATHY AND THE TROLLEY DOLLIES a Blast for Both Frequent Flyers and First-Timers at Gate69
There is something indescribable about returning to Gate69, the glitzy dinner theatre venue that opened less than a year ago in central Cape Town. It is that ineffable feeling of coming home, of belonging. Whether one is chatting with Luanna Shonfield upon arriving in the Art Deco-inspired bar area, relaxing in the plush lounge area en route to the upstairs dinner theatre, or trading a barb or a kiss with Holly, Molly or the glamourous Cathy Specific herself, the Gate69 experience is even better the second time around - although there were certainly many first-timers present last Thursday night when I went to see one of the venue's current offerings, CATHY AND THE TROLLEY DOLLIES. Frequent flyers or not, we all had a blast.
If you have ever been on a flight, you will recognise many of the situations that CATHY AND THE TROLLEY DOLLIES plays out on stage to hilarious effect. The constant bell-ringers, the shoe removers, flirty passengers - they're all there with Cathy, Holly and Molly throwing shade from a set of Sharon Stone jump seats on Eddie du Plooy's smart forced perspective design of an aeroplane interior. Whether they are lambasting lecherous pilots or castigating customers who overstep the mark, the trolley dollies offer laugh-a-minute entertainment.
And when they sing, they belt out their numbers to the back row with absolute control and style. Cathy (Brendan van Rhyn by day) delivers an exemplary version of Tommy George's blues-cum-burlesque standard, "Long John Blues". She also leads the trio in searing hot pop, film and musical theatre numbers like "Proud Mary", "Mein Herr" and "One Night Only". The delightfully deadpan Holly (Christopher Dudgeon) delivers a knockout version of "Grin and Bare It", one of the many tunes penned by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman for the television series, SMASH, while the ever-enthusiastic Molly (Rudi Jansen) makes the most of Anneli Van Rooyen's "Sewe Sakke Sout" and its characteristically Afrikaans humour. The work of musical director Glenn Swart is felt in the precise and impassioned vocal work, which is all beautifully magnified in the sound design by Eastern Acoustics.
The direction by Maralin Vanrenen is sharp and focused, still allowing the company room to play the audience as the evening continues. Sven-Eric Muller, a dancer seen on local stages in several musicals over the past few years, makes a seamless transition to the role of choreographer with this production. Cathy, Holly and Molly perform in costumes designed by Shamiela Salie and Nikki Smuts - gorgeously offset by three glorious wigs - and the bright and bouncy lighting design by Paul Abrams is distinguished by some witty and atmospheric moments.
Before the show starts, there is plenty of time for a drink or two at the bar and to enjoy the scrumptious mezze served on the Lazy Susans on the centre of each table in the theatre itself. Wine can be ordered by the glass or the bottle, as can a range of cocktails and shooters, and the time spent with whoever you happen to be sharing the experience with is guaranteed to be something that brings you a great deal of joy. I've celebrated a birthday at Gate69; this visit was super pre-wedding bonding time for my best man and me. And we're already planning a trip back with my fiancé and his wife. You should too.
CATHY AND THE TROLLEY DOLLIES runs at Gate69 through the end of June, along with FOR YOUR (ADULT) EYES ONLY. The schedule of shows can be viewed on the events page of the Gate69 website. The ticket price of R550 includes the delicious designer mezze, hot soup and bread service as well as a mouth-watering purple patron soft serve ice-cream for dessert. Follow Gate69 on Facebook and Instagram to keep up to date with all things fabulous at Cape Town's first class, world class cabaret venue.