Fringeworthy

Hip Shot: Burlesque of Broadway

Venue: Baldacchino Gypsy Tent

Remaining Performances:

Sunday, July 14, 8:30 p.m.
Tuesday, July 16, 6:30 p.m.
Friday, July 19, 9 p.m.
Sunday, July 21, 6:30 p.m.
Sunday, July 28, 1:45 p.m.
Friday, July 26, 6:45 p.m.
Saturday, July 27, 10:30 p.m.

They say: "Get ready for a sassy, sexy twist and a raucous romp to some traditional Broadway show tunes. Watch the costumes fall away and the sparkly skin emerge to songs from Damn Yankees to Rent – some classic and some unexpected!"

Rebecca's Take:

Burlesque sideshow mash-ups are a thing at Fringe this year, and we’re happy to let you all know that thus fair, pairing stripping with showtunes has worked out better than combining side-boob with The Shining.

Burlesque Classique’s Burlesque of Broadway is a riotous good time for those who like musicals, puns about musicals, and sparkly pasties. The show takes place in the tent, so try to have a beer or two beforehand. For best results, be sober enough so that you remember “You Won’t Succeed on Broadway (If you don’t have any Jews") is a song from Spamalot, but tipsy enough to embrace the camp. The production values are slightly homespun, but the chutzpah is highly professional, particularly in the opening number, when the ladies strip down to skivvies studded with rhinestone Stars of David and spin their derrieres around.

Now, it should be said from the start that these performers are not Triple Threats. It’s disappointing when emcee Mx May Nads (a.k.a Jeremy Pace) opens the show by lip-synching. He’s a gifted raconteur, however, and points his toes like a ballet pro. While the ladies are backstage changing, he regales the audience with tales of growing up gay in St. Louis (not fun) and shamelessly employing microphone-equals-penis humor. (“I’ve always wanted such a sparkly one of these aimed at my face.”)

The biggest laughs, for the musical theater geeks out there, erupt during a brief chorus of “I’m not wearing underwear today” (from Avenue Q), and when a fully clothed “nun” euphorically spins around onstage to strains of Julie Andrews singing “The Hills are Alive.” Pace, wearing one of many spangled blazers, comes onstage to interrupt before the wimple comes off. Sorry, fantasizing former Catholic schoolboys, they’re just not going to go there.

But pretty much everything does come off during other numbers, including “When You’re Good to Mama” (from Chicago) and “Mama Thinks I’m Living in a Convent” (from Cabaret). The cleverest tease of all comes courtesy of Pace, when he rolls around onstage in a blow-up children’s pool, scrubbing away while Mary Martin asserts, “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of Hair.”

Like Pace, several of the ladies appear to have honed their dance skills at barres, not just bars. Their pirouettes aren’t perfect, but they’re impressive, as are the leg extensions, which is all the better for showing off lacey bloomers while romping through Offenbach’s "Infernal Galop." That classic can-can is technically from an operetta, not a musical. Not that we're counting, but it would have been amusing to see the troupe be a bit more subversive with its musical choices. Annie is back on Broadway, you know. Maybe Burlesque Classique will let that sun come out tomorrow.

See it if: You couldn’t get A Book Mormon ticket, dammit, and a naked “Cell Block Tango” sounds like the next best thing.

Skip it if: You don’t go to strip clubs for the showtunes.

  • Another audience member

    For what it's worth, my opinion of the show and the above review:

    When I purchased tickets for this show, I was expecting something along the lines of "Broadway Bares", an annual NY charity performance during which Broadway singer/dancers perform show tunes while cleverly removing clothing. It's all very frivolous and fun, but it takes some creativity and talent to make it work.

    This is NOT what this show is. To begin with, the songs (with none from either Damn Yankees or RENT, as described in the Fringe guide) are pretty arbitrary. The content of the songs has minimal connection to what the dancers are doing, with the exception of an occasional prop that might seem appropriate.

    There are some decent burlesque dancers in the company. You can tell that they've learned a bit about strip tease. The essence of good burlesque is, indeed, the tease, and not the exposure. In high quality burlesque, dancers cleverly use props and costumes to create variety from act to act. This production, however, is sorely lacking the variety of ways in which the tease can happen. It's pretty much the same formula, regardless of the song. A robe, a bodice, pasties- 1, 2, 3. No clever use of props to mask the strip. No gimmick, to borrow the term used in "Gypsy" (an obvious choice that's not used in this show.)

    No one seems to have decided whether the songs would be lip-synced or simply used as background for the dance. So, some of the dancers do indeed lip-sync (the most effective number in the show, in my opinion, is a lip-synced "Don't Tell Mama"- the choreography resembles what was used in the original "Cabaret", and the dancer does a good job of not only lip-syncing but giving a sense of the character through movement and facial expression). Others don't. (In the opening number, from "Spamalot", the MC begins to sort of lip sync- not very accurate- and eventually just seems to give up.)

    A word about the MC. For the most part, he's there to buy time for the dancers to change their costumes and for the stage to be cleared and set(by an extremely awkward woman -not one of the dancers- who really seems completely out of place. Is she a stage manager, dressed in a skimpy costume? Is she a member of the company? What is her relationship to the MC, with whom she seems to be trying to flirt? She doesn't get a curtain call. What does that mean?) So, between acts, the MC makes somewhat random comments, mostly lewd. But he's clearly waiting to get the signal that the next act is ready. So, sometimes, he will start a story, only to drop it midway when he gets the sign, from that "stage manager", that they're ready backstage.

    As to the above reviews, I tend to agree with "Audience Member" that the original reviewer really didn't have much to say and was padding with incorrect song titles and trite cliches. A little understanding of what burlesque should be would have helped the critique. What she DID get right is that they used Offenbach's music and NOT the can-can written by Cole Porter for his musical of the same name.

    Burlesque has recently had a resurgence in popularity. There are troupes that regularly perform in clubs in the DC area. If you are interested in seeing what burlesque really is and why it was so popular in this country during the first half of the 20th Century, take in one of those shows.
    I would NOT recommend Burlesque of Broadway.

  • Audience Member

    After reading your blog I was wondering if we were watching the same show. Overall it sounds as though you enjoyed the performance, but it was like you were trying to say positive things about this group and masking it with arrogance.

    The"homespun"production values in the opening number clearly go with the theme for that particular piece of choreography. Went right over your head did it???

    This is a dance performance. For you to come out and say that these performers are not triple threats and want to make it known "from the start" is ridiculous. That detail is not revealed in this show nor is it relevant.

    In case anyone who is thinking about going would like the real titles of some of the song selections:

    The name of the song with the nun is definitely called "The Sound of Music".

    The name of the song used from Cabaret is "Don't Tell Mama"

    I am sure the performers appreciate being called "dancers" and not strippers, but please point out to me which pirouettes were not perfect as there were none in the 70 min span of choreography.

    Not that we are counting but.... Can Can IS a musical with music and lyrics by Cole Porter. The Broadway production ran for over two years.

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