The Mystery of Irma Vep Review

After months of anticipation, I finally got to see The Mystery of Irma Vep on stage at the Pieter Toerien Theatre at Montecasino and I was in hysterics.

 Get in the right mood by listening to this ambient music while reading this.

Opening Night

#IrmaVepSA Play
The kinds of attention to detail that does so much more than set the tone

I was invited to an exclusive gala evening that didn’t disappoint. The foyer was decorated in a spooky Victorian style, including a coffin with a mummy on display. The dimly lit reception was illuminated by candles that were scattered all over the place in true Victorian fashion. Speaking of fashion, the dress code for the evening was ‘Victorian Chic’. I love to dress up so I enjoyed that touch because not many shows worry about the dress code. For me, what you wear is just as much a part of the experience so I was keen to participate. Most people didn’t go all out but some people dressed to the nines wearing top hats and tailcoats or corsets and feathers, which really added to the experience.

Guests were welcomed with a complimentary programme, new Cadbury Roundie and glass of wine. After mingling with the other theatre-enthusiasts we were ushered to our seats in a dimly lit theatre accompanied by creepy music to set the mood.

The Play

The Mystery of Irma Vep is a satire of several theatrical, literary and film genres, including Victorian melodrama, farce, the penny dreadful, Wuthering Heights and the Alfred Hitchcock film, Rebecca.  

#IrmaVepSA Set
The Mystery of Irma Vep set as guests arrive

Set on a remote manor called Mandacrest, the audience soon finds out something is amiss. Between the horrors of a marauding beast terrorising the estate and the looming presence of the recently deceased former mistress Irma Vep, matters become awkward in the extreme for Lord Edgar and his new wife, Lady Enid.

The cast of two, Jonathan Roxmouth (The Phantom of the Opera, Sunset Boulevard, West Side Story) and Weslee Swain Lauder (Sweeney Todd, Call Me Lee, Starlight Express) play the 8 distinct characters in the story. Not only are these two actors extremely gifted performers but the swapping of characters and costumes was remarkable. Their comedic timing and overall performances had the crowd in stitches from beginning to end. The story is intriguing and hilarious at the same time, which makes for quite a unique experience.

The staging and blocking of each actor was coordinated impeccably as they seamlessly transitioned between luny characters. The intricate wardrobe design by Pierre du Plessis, scenic design by Nadine and Louis Minnaar and lighting design by Oliver Hauser played key roles in immersing the audience in the story.

The show came together flawlessly and was a real crowd pleaser. If you like to laugh, then you’ve got to see The Mystery of Irma Vep. The production will be on at Pieter Toerien’s Theatre at Montecasino from 5 to 30 July and at Theatre On The Bay in Cape Town from 2 to 19 August 2017. Make your booking at Computicket and like the production’s Facebook page while you’re at it. Be sure to use the play’s hashtag on social media – #IrmaVepSA.

#IrmaVepSA 2017

Have you seen the show? What were your thoughts?

Follow me on Instagram to experience my adventures with me.

Review: Mini-Me Personalised LEGO

I was given the opportunity to try out Mini-Me – a company based in Cape Town (South Africa) that specialises in customised Lego minifigures. I received my very own miniature version of myself recently and love it! Here are my thoughts.

Mini-Me in a Nutshell

Mini-Me has an impressive inventory of original Lego minifigure parts to create whatever you want. Make a Lego version of yourself, a friend, partner, boss, your favourite superhero or go completely off-script and create an entirely random character. It’s all up to you. But that’s only half the fun as there are a variety of options for you to display your minifigure on. All of this comes together to make a truly personal and special gift.

What I Loved ❤️

  • The Novelty – I really love this concept! Whether it’s for yourself or someone else, the fact that you select each piece for your character to your exact liking is part of the fun. I loved creating a mini version of myself by picking out each item based on how I really look. Similarly, making a Lego version of someone else would be just as entertaining. Beyond that, Lego was a memorable part of many people’s childhood, so you can’t help but feel a sense of nostalgia when browsing the website. But aside from that, actually having the final product is just totally cool. Whoever thought they’d have a Lego version of themselves? I certainly didn’t.
  • The Selection – There are tonnes of pieces to choose from on the Mini-Me website. Whether it’s yourself or someone who’s just graduated, gotten married, been promoted, etc., you’re certain to find any Lego piece you can imagine to make truly unique minifigures. It’s not all about recreating real people, though. Mini-Me also stocks parts for you to build your favourite movie or TV character. In addition to having parts for ‘Lego people’, they also sell numerous accessories and animals to compliment your character. As if that’s not enough, there are a range of stand options for you to display your Lego minifigure on. My favourite ones are the plexiglass stands that you can personalise to add that extra personal touch.
  • The Convenience Despite the volume of parts on their site, the website is easy to use. Pieces are categorised clearly and arranged by colour on each catalogue page. Mini-Me then delivers your minifigure straight to your door within a matter of days for a standard nationwide rate of R60 and R85-R105 for international orders. And, if you don’t care for building it yourself as a gift to someone else, vouchers are also available for purchase.

The only factor that might make some people think twice is the cost. Each piece of Lego is priced differently, but generally averages at about R45. So, if you create a standard figure, you’re looking at spending around R185. That’s excluding a stand, accessories and the cost of delivery. However, because of the uniqueness of these minifigures, particularly as a gift or to remember a special occasion, I’d argue that it’s worth it. It’s also important to bear in mind that the availability of certain Lego pieces is a major factor in how items are priced.

For more information on these details, you can visit their FAQ page.

Final Thoughts

Fantomdan LegoI absolutely love the concept of Mini-Me. Not only do I find it particularly cool that you can make a Lego version of yourself, but as a gift, this is a fantastic idea. The options for what characters you can make are endless so I urge you to visit their website where they have several inspiring ideas you can use, or start from scratch with your own unique creation. The posts they share on social media are also fun and edgy so check them out – links below.

Getting a gift for someone isn’t difficult, but finding something that is personal to that individual is usually so much more tricky. Check out the Mini-Me website and I guarentee a few gift ideas will come to mind. 😉

 http://mini-me.co.za/

Mini Me Memorables

@MiniMeMems

minimememorables

Thank you, Mini-Me, for my Mini-Me – I really love it.

Crumbs & Cream Now in Johannesburg

South African ice-cream sandwich shop Crumbs & Cream has been so successful in Cape Town that they’ve just opened in Jo’burg! I visited the new store as soon as it opened and it certainly lived up to the hype leading up to its launch.

Got to try #crumbsandcream that opened just yesterday! What a treat. 🍪

A post shared by Dan (@fantomdan) on

 

Crumbs & Cream in a Nutshell

Crumbs & Cream‘s claim to fame is their delectable ice-cream sandwiches. The business was started quite recently (2016) by sisters Shahar Ben Artzi and Or Lahat who combined their skills to begin what has become a very fruitful entrepreneurial venture. Crumbs & Cream’s first premises was actually on wheels and was typically found at the V&A Waterfront or Watershed Market. After a very successful start, the Sea Point flagship store was opened. With the increasing success of the business, Crumbs & Cream set off across the country to open its first Johannesburg-based store in Illovo.Crumbs & Cream Illovo

What I Loved ❤️

  1. The Experience: I’ve always enjoyed feeling a part of the process instead of simply ordering an item off the menu. This is why I particularly like going to places like Happy.MeRocoMamas and Andiccio 24 where I can select whatever I want to create exactly what I’m in the mood for. At Crumbs & Cream, customers can make the perfect ice-cream sandwich to suit their heart’s desire. Pick your cookie and spread, then choose your ice-cream and topping(s).
  2. The Selection: Crumbs & Cream boasts a range of cookies, ice-cream flavours and toppings. Customers can choose more traditional favourites like chocolate chip or hazelnut, while the more adventurous can try unique cookie flavours such as red velvet, milk tart and more. Similarly, traditional and more artisanal flavours of ice-cream are available depending on your preference. Something that impressed me was that vegan, banting-friendly and sugar-free options of ice-cream and cookies are also available.
  3. The Store: The decor of the store has stayed true to their Cape Town-based branch, with bright colours of pink, yellow and blue everywhere. The look is brought together with accents of wood, which is reminiscent of a tree house or jungle gym. The swing seats at one of the tables also add to this idea.
  4. The Convenience: You can also order the cookies and ice-cream individually or in DIY Kits to take home, which is a fantastic idea as a dessert option or for a birthday party. In addition, ready-made sandwiches are also available for your convenience.
  5. The Price: While you might expect something like this to cost much more than its worth, a basic ice-cream sandwich will cost you R38. This isn’t bad at all, in my opinion, considering the size of the sandwich and its deliciousness.

 

Crumbs and Cream

What I Didn't Love So Much

My only critique is its location. Although Illovo is a very trendy area, the shop is quite small with very limited seats. There are 4 tables seating 2 to 4 people, and with the amount of customer traffic in the store, there isn’t actually space for additional seating. Beyond that, the shop is surrounded by restaurants so there isn’t really anywhere to browse while eating your ice-cream sandwich before it melts. Despite this, it hasn’t seemed to stop the crowds. I’ve seen queues out the door on some days so maybe it’s just me. Either way, the prize is worth it so I definitely recommend popping in soon.

Ice-cream sandwiches are definitely the in thing at the moment, and while other stores like Paul’s Homemade Ice-cream and Milky Lane also make ice-cream sandwiches, Crumbs & Cream is arguably the best option.

For more information, check out their website and be sure to follow them on social media. You can also browse their menu here, or better yet, go and experience it yourself!

Crumbs & Cream (@icecreamcrumbscream)

crumbs_and_cream

@CrumbsCream

Mitech Direct Officially Open – Africa’s Largest Music Store

Africa’s largest musical instrument and technology store has just opened and is something every muso should be excited about. Introducing Mitech Direct – a premium music instrument and pro-audio outlet.

Although officially open to the public from 16 March 2017, a lavish launch was held at the premises on 15 March, where music industry professionals were invited to get an exclusive peek at the store. Guests were welcomed with drinks and a selection of finger snacks that looked more like pieces of art, which almost made you not want to eat them. Almost.

The Sweet Resistance Band
The Sweet Resistance opening at the Mitech Direct Launch (15 March 2017)

Shortly after, The Sweet Resistance took to the stage and absolutely killed it with some original pieces as well as an exceptional acoustic version of Imagine Dragon’s Radioactive. After a brief speech and video highlighting the store’s offerings, the floor was officially opened and guests were invited to explore the store.

The Store

Mitech Direct Officially OpenThe store is spacious and laid out with the customer experience in mind. The space has been put together impeccably, with modern finishes and state of the art technology. The layout and features of the showroom clearly indicate that the entire visitor experience was the main focus. Other than musical tech and instruments, branded gear and merchandise is also available for purchase. The facility also includes recording studios, showroom, and surround-sound viewing rooms. What’s also impressive is the lot has a stage that is kitted out with top of the range audio equipment.

Hang out at Mitech directMitech Direct is not only a place to purchase music-related apparel, but it is also a space where individuals can relax and hang out. There are several workstations and seating areas for visitors to use, which is made all the more appealing with WiFi access and coffee shop.

Instruments

Mitech Direct boasts a wide variety of instruments and music-related paraphernalia. While some items are displayed neatly in glass cabinets, most instruments are arranged throughout the showroom for visitors to test. What’s more is individual breakaway rooms allow customers to test drive instruments before making a purchase.

Audio Equipment

Any imaginable piece of technology for music production can be found at this store. Whether for live performances or to use in-studio, Mitech Direct is sure to stock it. Visitors are able to get hands-on experience with many of the tech items, and consultants are always nearby to assist.

The store is also home to one of only two Sennheiser Experience centres in the world, where customers can test headphones, speakers as well as a range of microphones.Sennheiser Experience South Africa

Mitech Direct is officially open for business and is sure to be a game-changer in the instrument and audio tech industry. Although you are able to shop for the products via Mitech Direct’s online store, I urge you to visit the store in Midrand to experience the full effect of what is certain to strike a chord with any music lover.

For more information, visit their website and be sure to follow them on social media:

Keeping Up With the Kandasamys (2017) Review

Last night I attended the premiere of Keeping Up With the Kandasamys and was beyond impressed with the whole experience. It’s not often that I rave about a South African film, but this one is well worth the watch.

The Premiere

Kyle Deutsch and DJ Deemo movie premiere
Kyle Deutsch and DJ Deemo being interviewed by ANN 7 and SABC News.

I’ve only been to a handful of premieres so I didn’t quite know what to expect, but last night’s event was impressive. The Johannesburg event took place at Ster Kinekor in Cedar Square (Fourways). Guests were welcomed with a red carpet, photographers, film crew, grand spread of food and drinks, which certainly made me feel like royalty if only for the night. A great playlist kept the vibe spirited and lively creating an atmosphere of excitement for the night’s festivities.

 

Jailoshini Naidoo Premiere
Jailoshini Naidoo who plays the meddlesome Jennifer Kandsamy

About an hour before the screening, the talented cast made their entrance and were nothing short of glamorous. To kick things off, guests were treated to a performance by Kyle Deutsch who sang one of the main songs from the film’s soundtrack. DJ Deemo also made an appearance and spent quite a bit of time being interviewed by news reporters and taking pictures with fans.

 

Mariam Bassa
Mariam Bassa who plays Aya

Then the cast took to the red carpet dressed to the nines, posing for photos with true movie star prestige. The cast includes some familiar faces from the Indian entertainment industry including Jailoshini Naidoo, Maeshni Naicker, Mishqah Parthiephal, Madhushan Singh, Koobeshen Naidoo, Rajesh Gopie and Mariam Bassa. The entire event came together perfectly, making for a wonderful evening.

 

 

The Movie

I’d seen the trailer and was hopeful it would be good, but it exceeded my expectations. Set in Chatsworth, the film opens a window into the lifestyle and subculture of modern-day Indian South Africans; their aspirations, dreams and challenges. The plot centres around two rival mothers who discover their children are having a secret relationship. They then decide to take matters into their own hands and work together to try to break the two up in a number of hilariously conniving ways. The light-hearted narrative is funny, charming and relatable to all. Not only is the story endearing, but I was blown away by the overall production value proving that the South African film industry is certainly alive and well. This is without a doubt a movie that everyone involved should be proud of.

Keeping Up With the Kandsamays is an absolute must-see for all South Africans. The film will be officially launched in cinemas nationwide on 3 March 2017. Do yourself a favour and go see it!

Watch the Trailer here:

Social Media Links:

Twitter: @kandasamysmovie

Instagram: @kandasamysmovie

Facebook: www.facebook.com/kandasamysmovie

IntsasaFoods Review

I was fortunate enough to be one of the first to try a new Johannesburg-based catering company called IntsasaFoods and I was totally impressed. From interactions with the team to the packaging and the taste of the meals, everything was top notch.

So often I find that food items on sale at most grocery stores and fast food restaurants is ridiculously overpriced for what you’re getting. But sometimes we’re so busy that it’s the most convenient option. IntsasaFoods aims to provide convenient and healthy ready-made meals that won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

The company was founded by three university friends who, like many others, often found themselves overwhelmed by their busy lives and would compromise on hearty, healthy eating for the sake of convenience. They identified this as a common problem for busy professionals and so IntsasaFoods was born.

How It Works

The process of getting these meals is simple. All you have to do is register at www.intsasafoods.co.za, browse the menu, order, pay and in 48 hours your meal(s) will be delivered to you. There is a flat rate of R75 per delivery should you choose that option, but you can also pick-up your order yourself at collection points if you’d prefer.

Intsasa is easy and convenient
The above was taken straight from the Intsasa website.

Why You Should Try It

  • The food is delicious!
  • It’s healthy and filling
  • It’s oh so convenient
  • Customer service is excellent
  • They deliver, which is great
  • There is a wide variety of options to choose from
  • The cost of the meals are very competitive and provide more value for money than fast food restaurants and grocery stores
  • The meals can be frozen for three months
  • They’re a local start-up and we should support ventures like this in our country

I was thoroughly impressed and fully support this company, and I’m certain if you try them you will be too.

For more information, visit the website or drop them an email. Having a looks at their Facebook page is also a good idea to see what other people are saying. And remember to like their page when you’re there to show your support.

To see more of my experience, you can watch the video below:

Starbucks South Africa Review

Starbucks-RosebankSouth Africans love to experience new things and the launch of Starbucks was no exception. Since the Rosebank store opened it’s doors in April 2016, young and old have queued eagerly to be one of the first customers to visit the first South African branch. Since then, another store has popped up at the Mall of Africa, with another 15 to 20 outlets expected to open over the next 2 years. The excitement around Starbucks has been unavoidable as people share pictures of their visit on social media. But, is it really worth all the hype? I visited Starbucks this weekend to find out.

In my opinion, Starbucks is not worth the amount of time you wait in the queue. People have reported waiting in line for hours just to get their hands on a Starbucks beverage. There are plenty of local options that provide better value for money than what Starbucks offers where you won’t have to wait to get in. Also, although Starbucks is known for it’s coffee, the beverages aren’t anything to write home about. The selection of food isn’t great either so I would suggest stopping past Krispy Kreme or The Patisserie, which is just across the road, then heading over to Starbucks for something to drink. BUT, if you’re looking for a new experience and have the time while in the area, Starbucks is a must! The excitement of trying out something new is worth the wait and adds to the experience, making for a great memory to look back on. While some items (specifically souvenirs) are expensive, in relation to costs of drinks from Woolworths or Vida e Caffe, Starbucks’ prices are pretty competitive.

Pros

  • The overall experience
  • The price of some products is on par with many other South African baristas
  • Different options to what South Africans are used to
  • Work by local artists and artisans were used in the design of the stores
Cons

  • Long waiting times
  • Some items are ridiculously overpriced
  • Food and beverages are not the best available

Fantomdan Starbucks ExperienceAlthough Starbucks may not make the best coffee in the world, it’s fun to experience something new, especially the launch of an international brand. The long queues are only temporary as the hype will slowly wear off. So if long queues aren’t for you, wait a couple of weeks or stop past during the week to avoid crowds. If you’re killing time before a movie starts, as was the case when I visited, Starbucks is a great option.

What are your thoughts on Starbucks South Africa?

Let me know what your thoughts are. Have you been to Starbucks yet, and what was your experience? If you haven’t been yet but are keen to try it out, you can find stores here.

ZARIS Espresso Bar Review

While everyone else was swept up by the hype around Starbucks launching in South Africa, I had the privilege of attending the unofficial opening of the new kid on the block – ZARIS Espresso Bar. 
ZARIS review
ZARIS is situated on the corner of 4th Avenue & 11th Street in Parkhurst.

Located in Parkhurst, ZARIS offers fair trade, organic African coffee, as well as exceptional service at an affordable rate. What sets ZARIS apart for me is the atmosphere. Many other restaurants and coffee shops on 4th Avenue have seating on the pavement, which can sometimes be a part of the Parkhurst experience, but can also be somewhat unpleasant. ZARIS is located away from the busyness and allows you to enjoy Parkhurst without feeling like you’re in the way. The premises also has plenty of plug points for patrons to use, making this the perfect place to hold lunch meetings or get work done away from the office.

There are a combination of sweet and savoury eats on offer. Whether you’re in the mood for the cake of the day or are just popping in for lunch, you’ll find something to satisfy your hunger. Not only is the food great, but ZARIS prides itself on top quality coffee and other warm beverages – perfect for those chilly Joburg days.
love lock
Visitors can make their experience memorable by attaching their very own Love Lock to the wall.

The decor is fresh and modern, combining organic textures with industrial elements. Something I thought was a nice touch is that the wall in the upstairs area has a fence mounted onto it where visitors can attach a Love Lock! The look and feel of the space is inviting and comfortable while still being edgy, which is no surprise as the shop’s owner and director, Schalk du Plessis, comes from a design background.

Not only was I one of the first to experience 4th Avenue’s latest addition, but Schalk was kind enough to answer a few questions for me.

1. What inspired you to start ZARIS?
The idea of ZARIS started when we were visiting South Africa (after living in Europe for two years), we were dying for a specific type of Iced Coffee we came to enjoy on a daily basis. But we couldn’t find it anywhere here. So we made a joke about opening an Espresso Bar. Then after a few months of fooling around with the idea (never imagining that it would actually happen) we got funding and decided that we will stay and give this a go.
2. Where does the name come from and what does it mean?

So originally when we were playing around with the idea, we wanted to do a fixed price shop. Basically meaning everything in the shop would be the same price.

ZARIS coffee review fantomdan
Everything on the menu is set at a reasonable R20.

At the time, we decided to register a name, so that if we do decide to go ahead with the idea we’re set with a name. So we started the idea of a fixed price at R15. So how does this translate to the name? Let me explain. I wanted to use the ZAR (South African Rand) and played around with the numbers a bit. We eventually got to ZAR15 and just turned the 15 into an IS. Thus ZARIS was born. Obviously after doing some proper research, we came to realise that R15 would just not be feasible. As you know everything is set at R20. But that is the story of our name.

3. What is the inspiration for the design of the shop?
The design of the store came firstly from the idea that we want to ‘liberate coffee’ as our slogan says. We want to give coffee a new life, making the best African, organic and FairTrade coffee available to everyone. Staying true to that idea, we wanted a fresh and different interior, matching the freshness of our concept. Looking at most other coffee shops, the general feel of ‘coffee’ is the same across the board. Also looking at most of the materials used, we tried to repurpose as much as we could as our motto is to reuse or recycle as much as possible, therefore contributing to the sustainability of the coffee and other industries.

4. What do you hope to bring to Parkhurst with your espresso bar?

fantomdan ZARIS review
ZARIS caters to local residents and those looking for a fresh Parkhurst experience.
It all boils down to amazing coffee, and amazing experience as well as affordable prices. Coffee has become such an important part of our lives, that there is no excuse for bad coffee. Looking at Parkhurst, there are quite a few different markets. Mainly residents and employees of the retail spaces in the area. To the residents, we want to offer great coffee, a friendly place welcoming people walking their dogs or just on a morning stroll through the neighbourhood. Looking at the employees, they can’t always afford a Parkhurst lunch. We want to offer them the chance to enjoy a lovely lunch and coffee every day, not just once a week. Over weekends we see a lot of people coming to Parkhurst to experience the friendly, walking neighbourhood. The people of Johannesburg love going to fresh places and exploring their options. We hope to offer something that most people would find enjoyable.
5. What are the next steps for this venture?
The future. Oh, the bright future. ZARIS is only a baby still, we have so many plans and ideas. Firstly, working behind the bar ourselves is an integral part of the development of ZARIS. We want to connect with the people and give them a personalised service. And then we get to expanding the concept to small kiosk spaces in key areas of Johannesburg. We want to put up a new store every year for the next five years, we might also introduce a ZARIS Premium as well as ZARIS Health. Both of these concepts would be add-ons to what we currently have, but will run more or less the same concept.
So the next time you’re desperately in need of a coffee while in the area, check out ZARIS and tell them Dan says hi. 😉
Still not convinced? Watch the video here:
To find out more about ZARIS, get in touch or visit their social media pages:

Singin’ in the Rain Review – South African Tour

The stage production is based on the 1952 film, vastly considered one of the greatest on-screen musicals of all time. I’ve loved the music and story from Singin’ in the Rain ever since I saw it years ago. When I heard it was going to be on stage, I knew I HAD to go and see it.

Thanks to a little help from a friend, I managed to get tickets to the opening night of the first Johannesburg performance of the show. From the moment you near the theatre, you know that it’s going to be a memorable occasion. Dozens of umbrellas are used as decor and even the ushers dress the part in yellow raincoats!

fantomdan reviewThe show was incredible! The production is packed with elaborate costumes, catchy music, stunning lighting, and of course, the rain! Not only were the technical aspects flawless, but the amazing vocals and world class choreography demonstrated that local talent is very much alive and well in South Africa. The months of planning and rehearsals come together effortless resulting in a truly mesmerising experience.

Would I recommend the South African tour of Singin’ in the Rain? Yes! Absolutely. Whether you’re a fan of the movie or know nothing about the story, I guarantee that you will leave the show having loved every minute of it. You are so immersed in the music, dance numbers and story that you feel like you have been transported to another time and can’t help but leave in good spirits.

The entire experience was so amazing that I ended up going again for the final show and the experience was just as magical. Should you get the chance to see it on a stage near you, I recommend you make every effort to see it.

Final thoughts: The translation onto stage was spot on and showcased South African talent at it’s best. 

Want to see more? Watch the video below of my experience at the opening night of Singin’ in the Rain at The Teatro at Montecasino: