Restaurant theatre

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Also called Dinner Theatre in the earlier part of the 20th century. Generally theatre spaces in restaurants and hotels, offering a meal and a show. Some shows include the meal in the price, in other cases the meal is on offer as an option before or after the show. Often associated with cabaret, presentations could include short musical acts, one-person performances, stand-up turns or full cabarets, though in some cases larger scale theatrical performances are also done (particularly in the “optional meal” type of presentation) . Such venues offered a cheap and popular option to hiring an expensive theatre venue.

So, for example, Don Hughes staged a Dinner Theatre production, You’ll Come to Love Your Sperm Test at the Langham Hotel in 1967. Some of the longer term venues of this kind include the Black Sun and the Chelsea Hotel in Hillbrow, Johannesburg, After Dark in Pretoria, ** GiGi’s Bistro (later the Dorpstreet Theatre) in Stellenbosch, the On Broadway in Cape Town, Kalk Bay Theatre, **.

This became increasingly popular in the 1990s, as musical acts and cabaret blossomed, and state funding for theatrical projects became difficult to obtain. In the late 1990s and early 21st century the Barnyard Theatre franchise of Louis Moller and Sybil Coetzee formalised this concept in the 21st century in a rather special way.


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