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February 27, 2006 | by  | in Theatre |
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Heavenly Burlesque

Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday during the Fringe (that means the 2nd 3rd and 4th of March)
Directed by Tom Beauchamp
9.30pm Paramount Theatre

“Give yourself over to absolute pleasure, erotic nightmares and sins of the flesh” -Frankenfurter

Paramount was filled by a cross section of Wellington society; ranging from snappily dressed gentlemen and middle aged women dressed in twin sets and pearls to the Cuba and Aro Street crowd dressed in sexually ambiguous black stove pipes and vintage tee shirts. While we were all drinking and mixing the cast of performers-cum-characters gradually began to filter in and emulsify themselves into their audience. There were beautiful eighteen year old cherubs, there was a drag queen whose costume would be more appropriate in Where the Wild Things Are and unconventional Can-Can dancers in vaguely gothic and extremely revealing costumes.

As we gathered in the foyer, our ears were treated to an aural hors d’oeuvre from Leila Adu and her accomplice Bridget. Hauntingly beautifully melancholic organ music filled the room and was supplemented by their combined talents of voice, sax and a host of unconventional instruments. And a second later the whole vibe changed; we were instantly brought back from the verge of depression and suicide by Chantillian Lace. A semi naked accordion player appeared from behind a sheet and was accompanied by two breathtakingly sexy dancers, a bottle of wine and a very suggestive baguette, this was to set the tone for the entire night.

After this we were ushered into the theatre to a projection of four she devil’s (again, semi naked – this was becoming, to my intense satisfaction, a theme) taunting and punishing a meek, male sinner. An obvious warning to the audience to be careful about their indulgences; and then the show began.

A silhouette of a man was the first image to appear before the image became our host, the very cheesy and incredibly sleazy Biayl Burns (Kim Potter); he welcomed us formally, before presenting us with a series of appallingly bad, unsuccessful but incredibly funny magic tricks. The real strength of Heavenly Burlesque was its pace. One act drifted seamlessly into another and there was absolutely no waiting around. If the stage needed to be changed other parts of the auditorium, such as the audience, were utilised flawlessly. There was not a second in which any audience member, especially one with an alarmingly short attention span like mine, could get bored. Performances were layered on top of each other and there was never less than two things going on at any one time. While a performance of this sort runs the risk of being muddled and confusing, Heavenly Burlesque got it bang on.

Once again, Chantillian Lace invaded the theatre. Their performance was half Kill Bill, half James Bond and all sex. They began in full bodied motorcycle leathers and ended up, once again, as scantily clad burlesque girls. Next, two conservatively dressed accountant types took over and began a satirical PowerPoint presentation about the Fringe Festival. Festivals, you see, make their money on ticket sales. However the costs associated with performing take a real chunk out of profits. Their conclusion, remove the artists and turn the Fringe Festival into a completely ticket-sales focused event. Completely logical you see. And then they took their clothes off and performed a breathtaking double trapeze act. It sounds weird, but like the rest of Heavenly Burlesque it worked.

Next, we were tempted by a slice of Don’t Feed the Models, a one woman Fringe show that is coming up at Bats and judging by the snippet offered to us here, it will be hilarious. This was followed by an elegantly restrained and superbly choreographed Art Deco era performance by Java Dance. These two pieces offered well needed respite from the full on nature of the rest of the show and were well placed, smack bang in the middle.

We then gave our ears to Barbie; a stunning, six and a half feet tall chanteuse in a sexy, leather faux-operatic Viking maiden costume. Damn her voice was sexy! It charmed the audience and wooed Biayl Burns who chased her around the theatre drooling at her every note. I was drooling too. While Barbie and Biayl paraded around the auditorium, the stage was being set for some magnificent rope work by circus performer and director of Heavenly Burlesque Tom Beauchamp. It is absolutely inspirational to see the humble and understated Paramount barista become his true self. Just as I have raved on and on about the sex factors of the various female performers I must also have a wee drool over Tom’s torso; in full flight, with mussels rippling, he is a sight to behold. And he is pretty damn good on the ropes as well.

Our penultimate treat was the Vaudevils (including VUWSA vetran Amanda Hill) who performed a near perfect, girl-dresses-up- as-boy drag to various boy band heroes. These guys were followed by the finale; a mad cap, Moulin Rouge style Can-Can. Can you Can Can-Can-Can-Can? These guys certainly can.

Needless to say, I enjoyed the show, a lot. It was fun, sexy and highly polished. Unlike a number of similar shows it worked, spectacularly. It changes every night but it promises to remain bloody good. It went off and I will certainly be going again, and again.

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About the Author ()

HAILING FROM the upper-middle- class hell of Havelock North, Jules is in the final semester of a bachelor’s degree in Trenchermanship (majoring in Gourmandry), is a self-professed Anarcho-Dandy and resides in the Aro Valley. He likes to spend his days pursuing whimsical follies of every sort and his evenings gallivanting through the bars and restaurants of Wellington in search of the perfect wine list. He has unfailingly dedicated his life to the excessive consumption of food and drink (despite having no discernable way of paying for it), and expects to die of simultaneous heart and kidney failure at thirty-nine. His only hope is that very soon people will start to pay him for his opinions (of which he is endowed with aplenty). Jules has a penchant for vintage Oloroso.

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