Reviewer: Chris Rogers
What better venue to host a fresh new twist on Cabaret than the beautiful Bush Hall? It was anything but a frosty reception walking into the ballroom-like setting which had seen its hot dance floor turned into a cool ice rink. Despite the loom of the tube strike, a sizeable crowd of lusty revellers yearning for hot skin and cold goose bumps all but filled the grand old dance hall.
In best traditions of ice shows like Disney on Ice and Holiday on Ice, the show began with a bang, an ensemble number that waylaid my fears that the venue may be too small to do anything significant.
Burlesque on Ice follows principal skater Hollie Deller, who finds her performing niche and place in the world as she discovers burlesque in a tongue-in-cheek Cinderella style story… Or so the blurb reads. In fact, the show is a much more colourful amalgamation of the figures within it.
Sharp tongued Joe Morose licks the audience with lashings of camp and dirty humour in his gender bending guidance through the story. His quick wit and a derrière that can hold its own among the ladies, straddle the dispersion between stage magic and its base subversion well.
The eponymous Gwendoline Lamour plays a rather reserved Fairy God Mother who loses said reserve as she teaches fair Hollie to take her kit off. And thus, off we are into the superbly sensuous world of tease and Burlesque.
Spread between a conventional stage and the ice, the pros and the newcomers of the burlesque world began to turn up the heat. Mia Merode solidly demonstrated how to bend men’s gazes like nylon, the ethereal Vicky Butterfly haunted men to Dream a little Dream. It’s a good thing the skating rink was in fact plastic as Ruby Deshabille’s fan dance and her swirling curves on the rink melt the ice. …in Greenland.
In between the acts, Glorian Gray offset the tedious task of removing cast-off suspenders with a charmingly funny tiger act. Trixie Kixx and Bonnie Fleur performed a superbly choreographed duet which perfectly combined the hot and cold genres. Bonnie deserves a special mention, as the youngest kitten among the clowder she took to the ice and fire like to a bowl of milk. Like any cute cat, if she were on the internet, she’d get a million clicks.
Stunning and graceful is Jasz Vegas, who removed garments with magic and mystique, while Danni Dee cheekily steals the limelight with her superb classic drag act to the tune of Nobody Does it Like Me.
If anything, Burlesque on Ice left me wanting more. It is obvious this show is in its first incarnation, there were scrapes and bumps, minor technical mishaps and one or two stumbles (which were excellently caught). The story, as wonderful as the idea truly is, could use a little fleshing out and alluring as the excellent strip teases are, I wish for this show to expand the cabaret in future. (The cast burst with skills – Jasz Vegas for example does fire acts.) I wish for the five professional skaters to embrace the naughty of their Burlesque sisters more and for the entertainers to revel in the magic of the ice.
What remains is the incredible feat of dedication these performers have shown. Most of the Burlesque crew had never skated before this show and by excellent skill have been brought to a level where discerning them from the professionals is possible only by the nipple tassels on show. The stumbles and the size of the show add to the up close and personal experience, much to the delight of the ogling spectator.
Of course fair Hollie skates to her naughty-but-happy ending and the show concluded with grand ensemble numbers led by that sexy greek chorus on blades (Sarah Christou, Kerri-Ann Thomas, Jessica Ashby and Rosie van Someren) to a well-deserved standing ovation from the audience.
It’s a brilliant night out and a short run. Don’t miss it.
Runs until 8th February