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HERITAGE THEATRE OPENS (article first published : 2005-04-22)

Well, what a night was tonight! All togged up to the nines – and nice to see many others appropriately decked out as per the theme Moulin Rouge - we headed for Hillcrest and the official opening of the new Heritage Theatre venue at the Hillcrest Heritage Market (see earlier article on these pages).

Unless I’ve really lost it as to what should work and shouldn’t, this venue has everything it takes to become one of the most attractive theatres in the province. It is surprising to learn that it seats 240 as one gets a good feeling of spaciousness even with the venue full. It is sensibly tiered on three levels and, as far as I can see, every single table has a clear unrestricted view of the stage. It’s an upmarket supper theatre so you can combine an excellent meal with top-class entertainment and good service.

Access is easy, either from the lower level of the Market complex which takes you down a flight of stairs to the theatre or through the basement parking, taking you on a level route – highly suitable for the disabled – straight into the theatre.

The bar, which is a smoking area, opens onto a deck which this evening was enclosed with blinds both to keep out the draught and to control the noise level.

Aaron McIlroy’s The Stand Up is a perfect production to launch the Heritage Theatre. After his successful run at Catalina Theatre (see review on the Drama pages), Aaron has tweaked the show a bit and it is now slicker and much improved. I wasn’t terribly happy with his new wild-haired Scottish character before but Aaron has tightened him up and added more lines and another song and this character is now a delight from start to finish.

Unfortunately, I was - to quote the late poet Douglas Livingstone - “strapped to a schedule” and had to leave at interval to load this story to artSMart before I go to Pretoria tomorrow morning to attend the first UNISA Southern Africa Voice Competition. It was really hard to tear myself away as the show was going so well, I was really enjoying myself and the audience were highly responsive … but work is work!

Ticket prices R140 include the show and a two-course meal. On the smartly-designed programme, Act 1 (starters) offers Eish Chicken Livers, Roasted Butternut Soup and Cous Cous Salad. Between us we had the soup and the salad, both of which were very acceptable. The Main Attraction (main course) offered Braised Lamb Shank, Grilled Line Fish Tabbouleh Salsa, Chicken and Prawn Curry and Roasted Aubergine Stack. I chose the curry which was delicious although I would have preferred the chicken to have been flaked. My other half pronounced the fish tasty but cold although this may have had something to do with adding a cool salsa to a hot dish. I am sure that this will be rectified in the future. Curtain Call refers to desserts which are à la carte. Ranging in price from R16.50 to R22, they include Bread and Butter Pudding, Vanilla Ice Cream, Strawberry Cheese Cake and Vanilla Parfait.

The Stand Up runs to May 15. Shows are Tuesday to Saturday at 19h00 for supper with the show at 20h30. (Sunday lunch at 12h30 for the show at 14h00). Bookings and enquiries on 031 765 4197. – Caroline Smart




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