Why you need to see Madame Zingara's Miracle Tour at the Theater of Dreams

Posted by Tyson Jopson on 12 July 2013

I used to dream about running away to join the circus. I even remember leaving a note: ‘Mom, Dad. I’m going to join the circus. Don’t come find me. Seriously. I’m not clowning around.’

I think it was that last pun that saved me from a life of groping other mens’ body parts while wearing Spandex. I realised I could clown around using words and keep my testicles (relatively) safe. I never went to a circus after that, until I visited Madame Zingara’s Miracle Tour at the Theater of Dreams in Cape Town.

Actually, to call Madame Zingara’s Theater of Dreams a circus is not entirely fair. It would be like calling Mr. Bean a halfwit. It’s so much more than that. Bean is an imbecile and Madame Zingara’s is, well, a spectacle.

Madame Zingara’s Miracle Tour at the Theater of Dreams

My girlfriend and were invited to witness this spectacle on a cold, rainy Tuesday night at the V&A Waterfront. Once we were through the heart-shaped arch, past the giant lollipops (giving wide berth to the fortune teller) and inside the stained-glass outer tent standing next to a skeleton pumpkin coach, the weather was completely forgotten. We were down the rabbit hole and the bustle of the V&A Waterfront was replaced with the shuffles and cackles of a full house of crazy characters (entertainers and patrons alike) already having the time of their lives.

Madame Zingara, Cape Town, Theater of Dreams Madame Zingara, Cape Town, Theater of Dreams

We shuffled over to the bar and grabbed a drink before being shown to our table by one of the waiters. His name? Afroladdin. I’ll give you a few seconds to create a mental picture of that. Yes, that’s exactly what he looked like. As we sat down, I looked around. We were in one of the last remaining mirror tents in the world, a relic that took me back (even though I hadn’t ever been there before) to an era where wild caricature transformed the ridiculous into art – burlesque as it was, and still is, known.

Madame Zingara, Cape Town, Theater of Dreams

Fairy tale characters swooped towards us with trays of sculptured food that looks too good to be eaten. But eaten they were. We enjoyed a set first course of ravioli, a main course of chili chocolate fillet (other choices included kudu Wellington, Norwegian salmon or tofu) and a death-by chocolate assortment dessert. The starters and mains were somewhat on the gazpacho side of the temperature scale, but with a room of 400 people being served simultaneously from a pop-up kitchen. I wasn’t too fazed, the entrée (a collection of breads, nuts and sauces) and dessert were perfect and the on-stage acts, which began the moment we tucked in, was so engrossing I probably would have just sat and gawked at the stage until my food got cold anyway.

Now that’s entertainment

The evening’s entertainment was varied, to say the least. At one point I was sat with my ear on the table (and my brain beside it) flummoxed by how a human body could move and contort like the one that was in front of me without snapping and sending thousands of gut-covered bony splinters into the crowd. It didn’t. I was watching Ziggy the contortionist do things I didn’t know were possible. That theme was to continue for the rest of the night.

Madame Zingara, Cape Town, Theater of Dreams, Ziggi, Contortionist Madame Zingara, Cape Town, Theater of Dreams, Ziggi, Contortionist

I’d barely picked my brains up off the table when a trio of staunch Russians came and stood next to our table. I thought I was getting bounced for squirting beer out of my nose and onto the table next to me on account of Cathay Specific’s (the transvestite MC with a package that required federal authorisation) latest joke. Oh alright, I’ll tell you what it was. I hope (s)he doesn’t mind:

A woman is at a beauty spa. She’s gone for all the bells and whistles, manicures, pedicures, waxings, scrubbings and creamings. The whole shebang.

The beautician turns to her and says, ‘Look, you’ve had pretty much everything done already. For an extra R100, you can also have your asshole bleached.’

The woman turns to the beautician and says, ‘Hmmm, maybe not. I don’t think my husband will look good as a blonde.’

Cue nasal beer fountain. Luckily the Russians weren’t bouncers. They were part of the show. They got on stage and started holding each other up in ways I can’t even hold a broom.

Madame Zingara, Cape Town, Theater of Dreams, Russians, Strongmen Madame Zingara, Cape Town, Theater of Dreams, Russians, Strongmen Madame Zingara, Cape Town, Theater of Dreams, Russians, Strongmen

The variety continued. Each time I was wowed a little more. There were ribbons, there were chains, there was music being played with the floor. One entire act involved a girl splashing around in a bath. By the end of it everyone was wet. Between acts we were entertained by Mr. C, a caricatured clown who sang about his delightful dong and removed his head from his body. We were serenaded by Cathay’s three Specifics, an entourage of Supremes-like divas who belted out cover songs from their bosoms ranging from the Supremes themselves to Miriam Makeba. But, what happened next really blew my poor little mind (which by now didn’t know if I was Arthur, Martha, or a combination of the two). Two Mongolian madmen got onto stage and started doing things to each other I never thought possible.

It’s called foot juggling: an act steeped in tradition which transforms the two performers into catapult and catcher. The act is an explosive form of art which forms part of a series of acts using the human body as apparatus. It’s known as the Icarian Games, and is a discipline rarely seen in today’s contemporary circus culture. I don’t even want to go into how long it took each of these guys to get to the level of confidently being able to whip (or be whipped) around in the air like a human Katherine Wheel. It’s unreal and was, for me, the highlight of the show.

Madame Zingara, Cape Town, Theater of Dreams, Foot Jugglers, Icarian Games Madame Zingara, Cape Town, Theater of Dreams, Foot Jugglers, Icarian Games Madame Zingara, Cape Town, Theater of Dreams, Foot Jugglers, Icarian Games

Soon after the Mongolian mind-warp the show drew to a close and I finally managed to pick my jaw up off the ground. But the night didn’t end there. The audience was coaxed into dancing in the aisles, on their tables and even on stage, by a combination of friendly waiters and bootfulls of booze. I’d had about as much entertainment as I could take for a week night and made my way home to mull over what I’d just seen. As we left, I turned around and saw one of the more voluptuous woman who was at the table next to us (now on top of it) belting out a blissfully off-key rendition of Baby Love into a faux microphone. So the fat lady was singing, but with true burlesque irony, I felt the show was still far from over …

Booking details for Madame Zingara’s Miracle Tour at the Theater of Dreams in Cape Town

Due to popular demand, Madame Zingara’s Miracle Tour has extended its stay in Cape Town, possibly until the end of December, which means there is still time to get in on the action.

Tickets start at R385 a person and include a four-course meal. Visit the Box Office on the Madame Zingara’s website for details on seating, availability and to book.

Win tickets to Madame Zingara’s Miracle Tour

Getaway, in conjunction with Madame Zingara, is giving away tickets for a table of four at to the Miracle Tour at the Theater of Dreams at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, valued at R2 000. Click here to enter.

If you need a little more inspiration, check out their promo video below:

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