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Stardust Restaurant & Dinner Theatre in Cape Town

The theatrical dining experience that not only facilitates a roaring good time for patrons but has also launched some major singing careers

After The Gold Rush

ASince the advent of the video-sharing site YouTube in 2005 and the ever-growing popularity of TV talent shows, there has been no shortage of gifted performers permeating popular culture. But, for every Grammy-winning, multi-octave vocalist like Kelly Clarkson, there is an auto-tuned, flash in the pan, internet sensation akin to Rebecca Black. Basically, quality control leaves something to be desired.

This, however, is not the case at the Stardust restaurant in Cape Town (known as the ‘home of the singing waiter’) , whose back-to-basics approach to hiring its talented crop of performers/servers has ensured that only the best make the final cut:

“To get into Stardust is a tremendous achievement. I would say that it is probably easier to get into one of the musicals in Cape Town than it is to get into Stardust. Our criteria is that we will not take anyone that we can’t slot in amongst our medium range performers and above,” says owner Lionel Liepaz. The restaurant, which was previously situated in Rondebosch, is now housed in the hip Woodstock area of the Mother City in a heritage building that used to be a bank back in 1902. The new location has lent itself to attracting clientele beyond the Southern Suburbs, and the interior features quirky design elements like bar stools made from Vespas, an upside down baby grand piano suspended from the roof and a bank vault. Of course, the vault isn’t purely aesthetic as it does house the establishment’s booze supply behind a 30-cm thick steel door.

After The Gold Rush

More importantly perhaps is the fact that the new space is also significantly larger and more equipped to facilitate Stardust’s famed theatrical dining experience. This means that, in between taking orders and serving dishes from the eatery’s Mediterranean and North African –inspired menu, the waiters now have a bigger stage to flaunt their powerful pipes.

Expect to be entertained by the perfomers’ pitch perfect renditions of hits made famous by the likes of Adele, Miriam Makeba, Beyoncé and even Rihanna; by the way, you can look forward to a vast improvement on the latter mentioned popstar’s less-than-impressive vocals.

But while the stage may still be somewhat small compared to that of grand concert halls, the platform is nonetheless rather substantial.

Since opening its doors more than a decade ago, Stardust has nurtured the talents of a number of accomplished performers. Case in point: the afro-soul singer Nomfusi, who released her debut album, Kwazibani, in 2009 and has gone on to make a name for herself both locally and internationally. The pint-sized star even appeared as a young Miriam Makeba in the big-screen adaptation of Nelson Mandela’s autobiography Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom.

“When Nomfusi first came to us, she only knew gospel music and had not performed any other genre. One day she came to me and said, ‘I won’t be able to work my shift tonight because I am singing at the opening of the One & Only,’ and I asked, ‘well, who are you singing with?’ and she said ‘Mariah Carey’,” recalls Lionel.


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70vibe-FM is primarily composed of voluntary music enthusiasts, with a mission to keep the seventies musical artistry alive, remembering and featuring all of the music that was published in the seventies.

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