Reviewer: Jenni Dixon
Burlesque is the art of the striptease with emphasis on the tease as opposed to the strip. Before it became associated with stripping, in 18th century Europe Burlesque was a form of humorous and exaggerated musical theatre. During the 1930’s there was a social crack down on Burlesque clubs as they were deemed to be too obscene. Their demise began as they were outlawed. It was around 10 to 15 years ago that the art form began to make a popular return to the stage with acts like Dita Von Teese and her iconic Martini Glass routine.
The Pavilion stage was transformed into a dark, Moulin Rouge-esque platform for the ladies to “do their thing” on. A female compere took charge of the evening filling the changeover of acts with stunning vocal performance and tongue in cheek humour as well as enthusiastic introductions to the ladies. It was her humour that helped relaxed the audience and allow them to be transported into the world of Burlesque for the evening.
It is perhaps very easy to stereotype Burlesque in general; however this show is surprisingly full of a variety of subject. Each performer has something different to offer in terms of style, costume and musical content. Silk, lace, sequins, crystals and as many feathers as you can handle make up the amazingly sumptuous costumes. As well as that more traditional attire, there are some acts in “normal” clothes which show how Burlesque has moved into the 21st century. The strip teases ranged from flirty and cheeky to very sultry and seductive. Highlights of the evening were definitely Chrys Columbine who treated us to her fantastic skills as a concert pianist as she stripped; multitasking at its best! Kaliki Hoola Girl was also enthusiastically applauded for her Hoola Hoop routine. She combined her strip with unbelievable control of hoops over her entire body, formidable strength and skill on display! There was a definite feeling of cabaret to the whole evening as a gentleman took to the stage to perform a comedic, balancing, juggling type act. He certainly got the most laughs of the evening for all the right reasons. This also meant that many tastes were catered for.
Whatever you might think of Burlesque one certainly can’t argue with the fact that these ladies clearly love what they do. Their engagement with the audience is unique and the ability to allure, tease and add some tongue in cheek humour is to be admired. It is a glamorous evening with zero hint of smut or seediness.
The only down side to the evening, that spoiled some of that glamorous atmosphere was the rather portly gentleman who sauntered on stage as the compere filled, slowly picking up the dispersed clothing like a mother might as she cleared her teenagers bedroom floor. An essential job, but rather distracting.
This evening of Burlesque would be a perfect performance for those who have never experienced this art form. You are made to feel welcome as a “newcomer” and guided through the glitz and glamour. The glossy program is a must buy for those wanting more as it is full of the history and journey that Burlesque has been on as well as some fantastic photographs. It is a celebration of real women in their element, perfectly imperfect and tantalisingly teasing. The genuine mix of audience members in age and gender proved Burlesque is something to be enjoyed and respected by many. This was a fun and frivolous evening of entertainment.