Interview: Lorri Strauss, Sharon Spiegel Wagner, Stephanie Baartman of THE DRESS CODE at Theatre on the Square Chat about Why Their New Show Is 'on Trend'

This stylish musical revue runs from 9-28 May 2023.

'THE GREATEST LOVE OF ALL Star Belinda Davids Returns To Joburg Theatre Stephanie Baartman, Lorri Strauss and Sharon Spiegel Wagner have teamed up to strut their stuff in their new musical revue, THE DRESS CODE, which comes to Theatre on the Square in Sandton in May 2023. Musical direction is by Clifford Cooper and Alan Swerdlow directs this show all about clothes, fashion and 'how we wear the clothes that make us, break us and fake us.' Stephanie, Lorri and Sharon chatted to me about the show and why it is set to be this season's hottest trend.

BWW: Let's start off with - Where did the idea for this show come from? What inspired you?

Sharon: Clothes! All of them. Why we wear them, what they mean to us, how they make us feel. Essentially, we landed on the title DRESS CODE because our clothes provide a fabrication of language for us and they help us identify who we are and what we represent in our lives. It's all about cracking the code.

Lorri: Our previous show LOCKED UPSIDE DOWN was about two moms in COVID. We wore pyjamas and gowns on stage. This was after spending two years at home during COVID. My inner sequin-loving fashionista has been dying to wear glamourous, stylish clothes after wearing loungewear and pyjamas during the pandemic, so I thought why not write a show about clothes. I have always been passionate about fashion and about the fact that what one wears tells the world a non-verbal story about who we are. Putting together a fabulous outfit for me is a creative outlet. I also felt that things are pretty gloomy in South Africa at the moment so a show that is pure escapism - comedy, beautiful music and gorgeous outfits - will hopefully give our audience the mental breather we all need.

BWW: What was the writing process like?

Lorri: This is the third show I have written with Sharon Spiegel Wagner and Alan Swerdlow. Writing anything in a creative context takes time. Because this process has been largely collaborative it has taken a few months to really put things on paper. Essentially, the writing process begins with an idea and that idea somehow needs to be translated into something that audiences can understand and enjoy. There are certain artistic guidelines that must be followed and thank goodness we have Alan Swerdlow and Clifford Cooper in the room making sure that from a staging and musical perspective, those rules are followed to create something slick, professional and fun. Each girl has a unique take on what she wears. And each take is interesting and contrasting. We are hoping that any woman (and man!) can relate to something we are trying to say. Writing a show is endless re-writing and recycling ideas and plans. It's gruelling!

BWW: What can viewers expect from this production?

Sharon: Viewers can expect sophisticated storytelling and magical musical renditions sung and accompanied by seasoned professionals.

Lorri: This show is a tapestry of our funny or genuine stories about what clothes mean to us, funny topical issues to do with clothes/fashion interspersed with our fun yet sophisticated, reimagined versions of well know songs.

BWW: What kind of music features in this production?

Sharon: We are going full out eclectic mix - a patchwork of songs ranging from big band jazz to contemporary pop and rock.

Stephanie: All of it! Singing, dancing, and storytelling, and a lot of acting and laughing, and I'm sure some improv on the night. This is a little bit like a triathlon; some of us are more adept at certain disciplines than others, but this is what makes the show so great! The way we carry each other, pick up the slack and bring our A-game for THE most beautiful and full rounded result!

BWW: What is your favourite era or decade for fashion?

Sharon: See I'm the girl that was at times intimidated by fashion trends and found it hard to keep up with all the changes and the speed of it all evolving so fast. I'm in love with period dramas, corsets and elaborate costume. And I love seeing incredible warrior costumes in movies and on stage. I like the concept of dressing up and telling stories with clothes.

Lorri: I am totally in love with old school, Hollywood glamour. Give me a sequin, black-tie gown and I'm in my happy place.

BWW: What is your favourite number of the show?

Sharon: Our rendition of 'Made You Look' by Meghan Trainor is exciting and I can't wait to reveal my poetry writing (now that's a big secret of what I can do there!).

Lorri: I don't want to give too much away but we have a lot of very funny comedic scenes in the show. It's been such fun writing the comedy and I am most looking forward to performing those scenes. We also have some real showstopper songs in three-part harmony that are wonderful to sing.

BWW: What do you think style and clothing do for us? Do the benefits extend beyond vanity or aesthetics?

Sharon: I think clothing can boost your confidence or squash it - that's why it's so important to feel good in what you wear. Steph said in session the other day that, for her, dressing uniformly (like calling your friends before you go out to make sure you're wearing something similar) helps give her confidence in blending in. She doesn't want to stick out too much. Funny, because her voice is a MAJOR stick out because she's so damn good!

Stephanie: For sure style and clothing extends beyond vanity and aesthetics! It defines us in every aspect of our lives: gender, sexuality, age, race, nationality, political outlook, weight, height, health, lifestyle...need I continue? Style and fashion make the world go round, Baby! Okay, that and fat bottomed girls.

Lorri: Fashion truly makes me so happy. That's what inspired the idea to do a musical revue about clothes. I find shopping and putting outfits together therapeutic. I can be going through a difficult time and somehow putting together a fun and fabulous outfit always makes me feel better. I love expressing myself through what I wear. I truly believe what you wear is your personal billboard, marketing your personal brand to the world. People definitely relate to you and treat you differently according to what you are wearing and how you present yourself.

BWW: What do you hope that viewers will take away from the show?

Sharon: Joy, pathos and a challenging view on what they are wearing.

Stephanie: To re-evaluate the influence and power that style and fashion have in their lives and in their relationships. To not take themselves so seriously. To never forget to have fun.

Lorri: I hope we can make our audience laugh, feel and forget about their problems for 80 minutes. I also hope they will leave with a new perspective on what they choose to wear.

BWW: Describe the show in three words.

Sharon: Fun. Sexy. Sophisticated

Lorri: Fashion. Comedy. Music.

Stephanie: Fresh. Scintillating. Sexy.

THE DRESS CODE runs from 9 to 28 May 2023 at Theatre on the Square, Sandton. Tickets are available via Computicket.


STUART TAYLOR – LAUGHABLE Comes to Pieter Toerien's Montecasino Theatre This Month

STUART TAYLOR – LAUGHABLE comes to Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino Theatre – Main Stage this month. Performances run Fri 30 June – Sun 2 July.

The Ndlovu Youth Choir Embarks on Tour of South Africa

Following on from the phenomenal sold out success of the Ndlovu Youth Choir in Concert in Johannesburg and Cape Town in 2022, local promoter Showtime Management is pleased to announce the return of Ndlovu Youth Choir for five shows only in each city. 


Come join us for this classic tale, originally by the brothers Grimm, which has been reworked as an entertaining play by Gaerin Hauptfleisch - who also makes one or two appearances as Handy Andy, the handyman.

WOMEN IN COUNTRY to Play The Drama Factory in June

Grace Newton brings Women in Country to The Drama Factory.  This show celebrates the wonderful female songwriters who have brought us music that makes us dance, cry and sing along. Women In Country features songs from Stevie Nicks, Dolly Parton, Shania Twain, Allison Krauss, June Carter-Cash and more.


#repshow# in[i]# THE VISIGOTHS
Baxter Theatre (6/06-6/24)
#repshow# in[i]# Vintage Jukebox
Theatre On The Bay (6/14-6/24)

Recommended For You