Kerry Fitzgerald is an actress, model, writer, event manager and general jack-of-all-trades. First introduced to the world of cabaret by the gloriously funny Fitzrovia Radio Hour and subsequently by the company behind La Reve and Bête Noire, Kerry has done everything from stage managing to front of house for some of London's most loved shows and can't wait to carry on gawping at all of the beautiful, talented creatures that London is filled with.
The atmosphere fizzes with excitement as the Hackney Empire fills up with fancy dressers preparing themselves for the London Gay Men’s Chorus Halloween Ball. The stage lies almost bare but for a pink bed. As the anticipation grows I sense the stage filling behind the luxurious red curtain, the lights go down and I am confronted with the stunning La Voix, a vision atop toned and fishnet stockinged legs.
From the off, her magnificently powerful but smooth voice wraps the audience in its arms and squeezes us until we laugh. Her comic timing is perfection itself and her attitude on stage is that of someone who has just received an attractive visitor at their house and is going to share something stiff with them, perhaps a drink, perhaps something else. Lucky us.
The curtain rises to over one hundred beautiful men in white shirts and dickey bows looking out into the full and silent theatre. The choir start to sing an energetic and mellifluous version of This is Halloween from the classic Tim Burton film, The Nightmare Before Christmas. There’s an imaginative use of lighting with the choristers holding concealed torches and periodically shining them at their own faces for added dramatic effect. As the night moves on, we are graced with the their version of Thriller which displays amazing levels of synchronicity from all on stage.
Back to La Voix. She hands down wins the competition for most costume changes in a show that I’ve seen. There were at least ten (three of which happened in quick succession) with a particular favourite being the hip grazing leotard clad 80s look which shows off La Voix’s remarkable and enviable derrière. Later, she introduces us to her delicious troupe of semi-clad male dancers. Six men whose eight-packs look like they have been carved from tress go through a number of intricate and well-choreographed dances, I have mixed reactions to these Adonises: unabashed awe at their dancing and uncontrollable giggling at how unashamedly sensual they are.
Maria Friedman joins this motley crew during the pitch-perfect duet with La Voix of Who Will Love Me As I Am, a song which exemplifies the true power of the latter’s voice. This show has an epic quality and the live band hold their own with solos of their own throughout including a superb rendition of the theme song to Beetlejuice. The conductor’s movements become gradually more dance like as the show progresses and his dextrous hand movements become more flamboyant, a show in itself. The evening climaxes with a medleyfrom The Rocky Horror Picture Show, at the end of which we are treated to a Riff Raff (Doug Paulson) whose voice bursts out like a newly uncaged eagle flying elegant circles above our heads, leading to a deserved standing ovation to Paulson and the cohorts.
The choir present a show full of energy with only a few misgivings. La Voix’s quick wit and cutting sarcasm was a rare treat whenever she unleashed it and more of it would not have gone unappreciated. Also, some of the quips seemed a tad overscripted. Overall, though, this was a night my eyes and ears will remember for some time.
Funds raised by The Halloween Ball are going into the charity which assists the LGMC’s youth, education and outreach programme.
Underground sensations Jake and Amir have amassed a loyal following thanks to their weekly video episodes and their new podcast. But how well did the two Americans translate their online show to a live London audience?
When American web comedians and collegehumor.com alumni Jake and Amir (aka Jake Hurwitz and Amir Blumenfeld) first announced back in March that they would be appearing at the Soho Theatre, tickets sold fast and with good reason. Their regular online hijinks have built up a loyal following not just in the States but also here in the UK. For some purists, they may not fit comfortably into the cabaret mould: yes, they are stand up comedians but they are also multi-format, interactive, performers. Jake and Amir have been putting an episode up every week for several years and have amassed an average of half a million views for each one. They write and direct the episodes of themselves and take their characters on surreal, hilarious and eminently quotable journeys. They have also just moved in to the free podcast arena and are hitting the top of the charts for If I Were You, a show where they give advice to people who email in.
The night opens with a fan-made musical version of the episode Milkman which also stars Ben Schwartz, an in-joke for all of the fans as we know the original video. Jake and Amir emerge on stage to bombard the audience with their quick back and forth style, whipping the crowd into waves of bigger and bigger laughs; at one point, Jake broke down laughing himself. Although around 95% of the show is scripted, it feels like less. I enjoy the spontaneity of their performances and especially enjoy their interactions with the crowd.
Jake and Amir are joined for their London shows by Streeter Seidell, comedian and executive editor of collegehumor.com. He acts as the meat in this show’s sandwich with a fifteen minute solo routine. His style is that of a classic stand up and watching him is both extremely enjoyable in its right and as a contrast to his colleagues’ style. Streeter’s performance further reinforces Jake and Amir’s ambiguous categorisation; they aren’t just stand ups, just actors or story tellers, they are an amalgamation of all three. The pair revel in all formats and, although the audience is almost exclusively comprised of men under the age of twenty-one, as a woman older than that who thoroughly enjoys their unbalanced relationship and their sometimes crude “skits and bits”.
Although undoubtably a tasty treat, at the end there is a feeling that Jake and Amir only gave us a taster of their act. There’s an entertaining audience interaction game in the third part of the show revolving around American foodbut it is over too quickly and the denouement feels too sudden.
After the show all three greet all of their fans and have pictures taken with them, a kind gesture to their fans on this side of the Atlantic Ocean. There are no plans for them to return so, for the faithful, it is back to the podcasts and videos for their regular dose of Jake & Amir.
Jake and Amir. Performed by Jake Hurwitz and Amir Blumenfeld. Soho Theatre, London, W1D 3NE. jakeandamir.com
If you think of clowning in terms of red noses and painted-on smiles, you’ll be surprised by Julien Cottereau. Except for the ill-fitting trousers and jaunty hat, he doesn’t fulfil any of those criteria. Mimed with exquisite sound work and fluidity, Imagine Toi, his Christmas one-man show at the Southbank Centre, exceeds all expectations I had of the former Cirque du Soleil lead clown.
Cottereau introduces us to his mimed world by “cleaning” his imaginary surroundings, with a vast array of sound effects. His facial movements are so subtle that it takes me at least five minutes to realise the sounds aren’t recorded, but are coming from his mouth. He soon introduces games such as throwing a mimed ball back and forth from the audience, which gradually become more elaborate. Children immediately warm up to the simplicity of the hilarious gag, which is fascinating to watch. Before you know it, the mime is picking kids and grown-ups to join him onstage.
A family show, Imagine Toi takes a few risks with what’s acceptable to the different age brackets in the crowd. Late in the show, a sketch with many imaginary dogs ends with one puppy beaten and bruised, groaning and whimpering. After a quick thumbs-up-or-down check with the public, he finds a volunteer to hold his invisible gun and prepare to put the poor thing out of its misery, with an inventive escalation of incentives to carry out the thankless task. Gasps and laughter alternate among patrons, who hold onto the edge of their seats with worry for a pet they cannot see. Cottereau creates such a real and affective environment that adults can’t help but believe the childlike wonder of his illusions.
Imagine Toi plunges you into one of the most liberating atmospheres I have ever felt in a theatre. Cottereau’s beautiful world of make-believe has no words, age, gender or time. The connection that builds between everyone in the room brings such a sense of safety that children are soon exchanging excited whispers with their parents. My favourite comment comes from a five-year-old girl at a front seat, who cracks up the first four rows by remarking “hah hah, Mummy, the fly’s on his dinkle.”
This inclusive 90-minute mime-clown tour de force is enjoyable and funny for all ages. I laugh so hard that my face hurts from smiling when I leave the Purcell Room at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. Back in the real world, I find myself beyond inspired, truly contaminated by Julien Cottereau’s Imagine Toi: I can now do a mean dog woof. Time to perfect my mimed sweeping.
Imagine Toi. Performed by Julien Cottereau. Queen Elizabeth Hall at the Southbank Centre, London SE1 8XX. 13-18, 20-23 December, 19:00; 15-16, 22-24 December, 14:00. £15. http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk
Photo credits: Gui O’Connor, exclusively for This Is Cabaret
Musical comedians The Horne Section may be among the most modest of acts. Despite being able to pack out shorter shows during their three Edinburgh Festival Fringe runs, they have chosen again to share their longer and high profile run at the Southbank Centre with two acts for each night of their recent run in the Southbank Centre’s Purcell Room.
The show is mostly musical, streaked through and through by comedy, with variety being the name of the game. Backed by a wide assortment of instruments including keyboard, bass guitar, drums, trumpet, saxophone, a double bass and a banjo, leader Alex Horne’s role is chiefly to add laughs to an already entertaining repertoire of chucklesome songs.
Through a series of improvisations, music and jokes (there are three, officially) we get to know the five-piece band. By the end of the show, it only takes the raising of Horne’s eyebrow to make the audience erupt. Occasional skits find favour with the audience, like one playing off Horne’s strong aversion to jazz. A medley of London-specific songs concatenate hit tunes into what ends up as a capital affair. Later, the band string together stylised cover versions of Horne’s car playlist with the pianist standing out for his sheer versatility.
An apparently disjointed pair of acts join the Horne Section for short sets. Dave Gorman is well-known for his wacky adventures, finding his namesakes across the globe and meddling with the world’s favourite search engine. Gorman’s talent to make the banal look genial and interesting has not lessened over the years, so it is no surprise to see him indulging his geeky side here. After a discussion on the people who look like him (including Horne), he is accompanied by the band on a verbal collage which becomes a Fijian-based found poem.
The night’s other guest act Frisky and Mannish have played with the Horne Section before, combining their talents on a version of Rihanna’s Rude Boy in the style of the Bee Gees. The pop revisionists fully deserve the rapturous applause they receive for their highly informative performance explaining the rules behind duets. The duo are experts in collaborative creations: they were behind the recent high-profile Cabariot campaign, which brought together the cream of London’s performers.
Lengthwise, the Horne Section have finally created a show which strikes a happy medium when compared to past outings. Indeed, the current show’s structure and duration is a key factor in its appeal. The last Fringe production was an hour long, played straight through. While it served to whet the appetite, it was a petit chou compared to the multi-course fare that the Horne Section put on at the Lyric Theatre early last year. The West End production clocked in at almost four hours, but the shows at the Southbank Centre are of a more manageable size, markedly longer than in Edinburgh but sensibly split in half by a short interval and a guest act in each part.
The Horne Section now have a near-perfect production combining laughs, variety and music, all in a well-paced and fun-sized package. All that is needed from them is more shows. Come back soon, gentlemen.
The Horne Section. Written and performed by The Horne Section. Southbank Centre, London SE1 8XX. 30 October-2 November, 20:00. £15. http://www.thehornesection.com
I’ve seen Hamlet many times, but never as a dreamlike and surreal production in such a grand scale as this. Backed by cabaret post-punk band The Tiger Lillies, the play gains a Brechtian tone through their haunting music and the echoing voice of frontman Martyn Jacques, who addresses both public and actors directly.
Imposing experimental sets, like a tilted room to simulate a downward view and a sea made of actors’ bodies, make an amazing background for the sophisticated spectacle that follows. The cast uses a giant wooden wall of doors and windows in ingenious ways, establishing a metalinguistic narrative where grotesque scenes with exaggerated gestures and expressions are interrupted by other performers, who try to “direct” the action to create a straight, more traditional staging.
Those interruptions can be jarring, but the non-realistic moments weave a beautiful and absorbing magical world. Morten Burian delivers a strong, moving performance as Prince Hamlet, growing more distorted as his mad drive for revenge increases. At one point, he manipulates fellow actors as hand puppets, in a hilarious display of clowning and sharp physical skills (especially by the formidable Andrea Vagn Jensen as Queen Gertrude). Other scenes use dance or slow motion to dramatise elements like the passion between Hamlet and Ophelia.
Throughout the play, the Tiger Lillies contribute the score to the dramatic exchanges, as well as to Jacques’s own storytelling interludes. The resulting multi-sensory texture is thoroughly enveloping, often dwarfing the dialogue. Terror and intimacy alternate in the kaleidoscopic turmoil, to stunning effect. If you’re not familiar with their idiosyncratic musical output, mixing influences from Weimar cabaret, folk and circus, you’re in for a treat from this trio of accordion, upright bass and percussion.
The pairing of realistic and experimental techniques seems convoluted at times, but The Tiger Lillies Perform Hamlet remains gloriously original from beginning to end. Its brilliant use of movement combined with music left me immediately astonished. This Hamlet creates a real world for the audience to gawp at and get lost in.
The Tiger Lillies Perform Hamlet. Directed by Martin Tulinius. Queen Elizabeth Hall at the Southbank Centre, London SE1 8XX. 18-21 September, 18:30. £20-30 (£10-20 concessions). http://www.tigerlillies.com
Get a glimpse into the mind of the Tiger Lillies frontman in Kerry Fitzgerald’s interview with Martin Jacques.
Cabaret of Shakespearean proportions? Or Shakespeare with a Brechtian twist? Having spoken to Martyn Jacques earlier this year about his solo debut at the Soho Theatre, Kerry Fitzgerald catches up with the Tiger Lillies frontman about their upcoming musical treatment of Hamlet at The Southbank Centre.
So! What can an audience expect from this Hamlet?
A real theatre show with very high production values. A very serious piece of work, not in terms of acting but in terms of design and how much effort has gone into it all. We worked hard on the songs and tried to make them tell the story. They focus on Hamlet’s psychological state, especially the effects of betrayal and his madness. It’s quite dark, and quite German.
How many actors are in the show?
There are five actors and the three of us, so eight in total, plus lots of puppets.
Who was involved in making the show?
Me, director and set designer Martin Tulinius and the producer, Republique. I went to Copenhagen a few times and we talked about it, about the songs. I wrote loads of songs. We dropped some, and then evolved some of them. Martin has put together a wonderful set, which at one point collapses forwards.
It was the producer’s idea. I wasn’t as keen on doing Shakespeare, but in the end I liked the whole thing. Hamlet is someone that worked in a Tiger Lillies way. There are lots of references to death and decay, and he’s a bit of a wounded animal.
And it’s in a Brechtian style?
Well, we just are, we’ve always been called that. I’ve always liked The Threepenny Opera and when I was younger used to listen to it in my squat in Finsbury Park a lot.
Who’s your character?
Some people say I’m like the clown, like the gravedigger, a jester. I’m commenting on the action, a Joel-Grey-esque character. There’s all these horrible people and there’s me making observations about this nasty corruption.
Do you think you’d take this to Stratford-Upon-Avon?
I don’t know. Maybe if someone comes to see it. Some people might not like it very much. We’ve tried to tell the story, but we’re only using a small proportion of the text.
Would there be another of Shakespeare’s plays you’d be interested in doing? Richard III for instance?
Maybe if someone made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I’ve written lots of of songs about killing children. If you go to the Arts Council and get a grant,you can direct it.
Want to see new rots in the state of Denmark? The Tiger Lillies Perform Hamlet at The Southbank Centre (London SE1 8XX) from Septermber 18th to 21st, 19:30. See http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk for details and tickets.
Its not unusual for members of a group to temporarily fly the nest and experience performing on their own and that’s exactly what Martyn Jacques from The Tiger Lillies has done. In his current show at the Soho Theatre, he scores the silent movie The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari live. Kerry Fitzgerald interviewed him about music, being alone on stage and where he imagined his future to be when he was living above a brothel in Soho.
It is your first solo show and I was wondering where do you think the audience’s focus should be?
On the film. Definitely. I look at the audience sometimes and they’re all looking at the film, which is what they should be doing. It’s a great film, they can watch that, I’ll have their ears and the film can have the rest. I actually wanted to be in complete darkness. When I did it in Warsaw, I did it in darkness and they said I should have a little bit of light on me. I think that the more light is on me the more it takes away from the film.
There are lots of references to Tiger Lillies numbers. Was that on purpose?
Yes! It was funny writing a long ongoing piece of music. I wanted to make it more fragmented and bring in quotes from Tiger Lillies songs. It is set in a fairground and I’ve written so many songs about freakshows and fairgrounds that I thought it’d be a good fit. I’ve also written a lot of songs about murder and I thought it would be a good idea to bring some of that in.
You switch so fluidly and discreetly between piano and accordion and for most of the show play both at once. Did you consider also playing a ukulele?
No, I think that’d be a bit much really. I did at one point think about having a bass drum but I didn’t in the end. Instead I tap my foot.
After the show yesterday you were selling CDs and called out “you buy them, we’ll sign them. Oops, I’ll sign them: it is an ‘I’, not a ‘we’.” Do you miss the rest of The Tiger Lillies?
No, its fine! Its funny for me, I quite like it, it was the second time that I’ve ever appeared on stage alone. It is nice to know that I am going to be carrying on with The Tiger Lillies after this, but its quite fun to do a solo project. I’ve got a friend who works in cinemas that is going to organise a tour of old European cinemas for me. I like the whole thing. It is a nice side project.
Essentially you’re still sharing the stage. Do you think you’ll do another solo show where the focus is solely on you?
Maybe. I like working with other people so this is almost similar to that in a way as I’m still looking at and interacting with something else. I have performed with other people a lot; I quite like playing off of them and their reactions. I’m quite happy to be the centre of attention but I don’t have to be.
So you may go on and do more solo stuff…
Maybe, I haven’t really thought about it. It is good to do different things, that’s what you’ve got to do. Try out different things and change. I may even do a recording of this show and perhaps a DVD.
I recently watched the original 1920s silent film and was immediately struck by the fact that your score evoked so much more emotion in me. You made me care more about the characters, especially Dr Caligari, the villain. Was that a conscious choice?
No. I think I am quite nice towards [Dr Caligari’s associate] Cesare, I’m projecting him as more of the victim and Dr Caligari as the evil one. I write about murderers and dark and deviant kinds of people so maybe I feel slightly sympathetic towards Dr Caligari and maybe I feel like I could be quite a good Dr Caligari.
You spent several years living above a brothel in Soho . Do you think that has influenced the dark side to your music?
I would say so. I’d watch everything from my window and see all the stuff and it was quite heavy. The Salvation Army would come often down here and play and that was marvellous. I’ve written lots of songs about them.
There were girls who worked in the street called “clippers”. Their job was to say to interested customers ‘give me fifty quid and I’ll give you a key, just go up that staircase, go in and wait for the girl’. They would just be old keys and they wouldn’t fit and, before the victim came downstairs, the clippers would move on to another corner.
Unfortunately when you do something like that, you can always do someone who gets really angry and one of the girls I knew was murdered.
Did you ever imagine you’d be here when you were in that world?
I always hoped I’d be a successful musician and not like a drug dealer or a pimp for the rest of my life. Unlike most people I always used to play and I was always writing songs about that world and the life. So, yes I guess I did.
After your shows at the Soho Theatre, you’ll be joining up with the Tiger Lillies again in September to perform Hamlet at The Southbank Centre. What can you tell us about that show?
I think its quite good, people think its really good. I’ve done some bad shows but this one has quite high production values, we’ve had lots of rehearsal times and it’s very fresh. I’ve done a few shows where they were criticised and they failed because production values were too low and there wasn’t enough time or money. This one is much better, we’ve rehearsed it a lot and we’ve played it. I think it’s a good one.
What’s your worst show that you’ve ever done?
I have done a few. I did one in Edinburgh, not The Seven Deadly Sins, one called Punch And Judy. The production was terrible, we didn’t have enough money and we didn’t have a producer. We made it on our own, got very badly mauled by the critics because it was so badly put together. There was bad lighting, a terrible set and it was badly conceived.
We also did a show where I was in a big dress and my costume, which had been nicely pinned to me, started popping open as I was dancing. I thought “fuck it, keep dancing” and ended up in my boxers.
That’s not so bad: you were naked on the front of Farmyard Filth with an inflatable sheep!
Wow. You like Farmyard Filth? Well, yes, I suppose I was naked. I was drunk.
You’re quite self-critical it seems.
I’m getting a bit old now, I’m not quite so driven as I used to be. I think its good to be a bit more relaxed and laid back and I haven’t been relaxed or laid back, I’ve been too mad. So hopefully in my twilight years I’ll relax a bit more and take things less seriously, I’ve taken things too seriously. That’s been my mistake. A lot of people do that, every time people get upset about things I think “what’s the point?”
Martyn Jacques: The Cabinet of Dr Caligari. Soho Downstairs, Soho Theatre, London W1D 3NE. Wed 25 July- Thu 9 August 7.30pm, 10-11 August 9.30pm. Wed + Thu £15 (£12.50), Fri+ Sat £17.50 (£15) sohotheatre.com
Many of the best artists in London cabaret and burlesque are taking turns at the busy big top by the Southbank Centre. If you’re equally busy and can’t catch them individually, or could use a sample before you choose your tickets, Saturday Night at The Spiegeltent is a great way to experience all the diversity of the Priceless London Wonderground festival in one go.
In true variety fashion, you’ll never see the same bill twice. Judging from my visit, though, the rotating line-up is reliable. First up is magnificent burlesque rabble-rouser Kitty Bang Bang (also performing at Boom Boom Club: Prospero’s Tavern), who only takes seconds to rile up a gentle crowd. Excited by her antics, the timid woman on my table becomes a wolf-whistling hound. I fall temporarily in love with Kitty, and her deeply sensual fire breathing, every time I see her.
Oozing hilariously arrogant French poise, Marcel Lucont loosens up the audience with the gentle skill of a seasoned ladies’ man. His sets are foolproof minimalist character comedy. Lucont’s power is in his silence: he only needs to shrug to make my stomach hurt from laughing. Whether snubbing British royalty or eulogising the sacred act of having sex in a public toilet, the barefoot existentialist is consistently fun.
More filth follows with musical comedy duo EastEnd Cabaret, whose riotous and rousing tunes have me reaching for another plastic cup of cider and donning my half moustache after the show. Other artists in the bill include comic Phil Nichol and hula-hoop artist Marawa the Amazing.
The only letdown is compère Andre Vincent. Playing his no-frills stand-up to a tent full of cabaret enthusiasts makes for a flat atmosphere. He does nothing to warm the audience up and demonstrates no more than a tentative knowledge of the line-up. The comedian is a tough act to follow, but for all the wrong reasons.
Late-night cabaret options are sadly in low supply in a major variety hotspot like London, which makes Saturday Night at the Spiegeltent even more special. Hosting aside, the show attracts compelling guest acts from the other Wonderground shows. For that alone, this microcosm of the festival is a sure way to end your Saturday night on a cheering note.
Saturday Night at the Spiegeltent. Hosted by Andre Vincent. Priceless London Wonderground Spiegeltent at the Southbank Centre, London SE1 8XX. 26 May, 9 and 23 June, 7 and 21 July, 11 and 25 August, 22:45. £15.50 (£14 concessions). http://www.pricelesslondonwonderground.co.uk
Photo credits: Gui O’Connor, exclusively for This Is Cabaret
Recently The Brickhouse found another variety gem in Wham! Bam! Kaboom! by Seattle boylesque troupe Mod Carousel. Set up like a comic book movie, the narrative-driven show sees our three handsome heroes save the world while dancing, posing and artfully undressing (Robert Downey Jr, eat your heart out). In between nightly shifts rescuing our collective arses from total armegeddon with his two super-powered compadres, Carousel member Trojan Original found time to answer Kerry Fitzgerald’s questions.
How do you feel the audiences differ between the US and UK?
Thankfully both the US and UK audiences thoroughly enjoy what we do but the main differences have been in the details. For example, I’ve had to change my hyper masculine character (which is a hit in the US) around quite a bit because, as I understand it, being a ‘tough guy’ really isn’t a thing here. Another thing we’ve noticed is that our British audiences haven’t been exposed to nearly as much burlesque, much less boylesque, as we’re used to so we’ve had to be up front and tell them about burlesque etiquette and that making noise is good and watch them get a hang of it throughout the show.
Were there any big things that you had to change with the show for a British audience?
We didn’t have to change any MAJOR major things. The biggest change was taking out one of our acts which we dubbed ‘twincest’ for being to risque. I’m sure ‘twincest’ has a place somewhere in a London show but it wasn’t being well received at the Brickhouse so we replaced it with a high energy, easily lovable solo by Paris Original. Another change we made was when we found out that shake weights aren’t common knowledge in Great Britain so having the punchline of one of my acts be a shake weight just wasn’t working. All in all Leeni is the one that’s had to adapt the most by changing out jokes about the US current events, like the election, to jokes that Londoners would be more likely to get.
As a first-timer over here are there anything that you are shocked by or find strange about us?
Hardly. There’s many a difference in vocabulary that’s taken adjusting to, my favourite being “are you all right?” instead of “how’re you doing?”. In my mind “are you all right?” implies that there’s something wrong with me. But all in all, Londoners are great. They’re friendly, the accents are fun to listen to (and sometimes hard to understand in the noisy post show at the Brickhouse). There’s just enough of a culture difference for being in London to be a lot of fun and different without being overwhelmed. Hold on – the one thing that still gets me in trouble is the reversed driving situation and how nerve racking crossing the roads can be.
Where and who do you think your show is perfect for, if anyone?
Glad you asked. Our show only features guys taking their clothes off so it seems obvious that the show would be perfect for women and gay men but it goes so much further then that. Our show has so much comedy in it, so much good music, good dance, etc that straight men and gay women have walked out with a silly grin on their faces 99.9 percent of the time. Straight men in particular are resistant to seeing our show but way more often than not, they’ve been happy they did.
Do you wear spandex in your spare time?
Not really, but I wear a lot of tight shirts in my spare time.
Are you finding that your character and being comfortable semi-clad is seeping in to your everyday life?
My character doesn’t seep into my everyday life that much but being comfortable semi-clad certainly does. I didn’t use to like being seen in my underwear or seeing Luminous and Paris in theirs but now it doesn’t matter at all. And I tend to lose my shirt here and there.
Mod Carousel’s Wham! Bam! Kaboom! plays The Brickhouse until June 15th. See http://www.modcarousel.comfor details and further dates.
Seattle boylesque troupe Mod Carousel is gracing the Brickhouse in East London for one more month with feature-length show Wham! Bam! Kaboom! before they have to fly back home. This spandex-laden superhero spectacle delivers a colourful, fun and sexy show, pitching a trio of metahuman strippers against a singing villainess (synth pop singer-songwriter Leeni, who doubles as compère for the show).
Unlike many burlesque shows, this one has a plot. Our handsome heroes battle over three episodes to save the world by jumping into (and out of) a variety of costumes and disguises. As the antagonist, Leeni rips into the unprotected underbelly of American kitsch including ludicrous pops at Cher and Celine Dion.
At one point, she introduces Trojan Original as “aimless and hot and ripped,” and the literally comic strips that follow certainly live up to her claim. From Trojan’s oiled extravaganza to Paris Original’s Ugly Duckling routine (a highly entertaining dance performed en pointe), this show had me giggling, blushing and singing along. I will be seeing it again before it jets off.
The Brickhouse has a challenging structure unseen in any other London variety venue. Its thrust stage, encroaching on the first floor of diners and two levels of balconies looking down at the action, makes the vertical environment quite intimate. Leeni singing My Heart Will Go On while hanging down from the railings, with arms stretched a la Titanic, is one of many striking gags that crowds get to enjoy at close distance.
An interval follows this strangely climactic moment, which gives me the opportunity to sample The Brickhouse menu. Pleased to find an abundance of promising vegetarian dishes, I go for the French bean salad, rigatoni and ginger and kiwi mousse, all of which I recommend heartily.
As you might have guessed from a live show about singing superheroes in bright costumes, Wham! Bam! Kaboom! doesn’t take itself too seriously. It may not be to your taste if you only like traditional burlesque. However, if you’re after a fun night (maybe with a gang of your girlfriends), Mod Carousel’s tongue-in-cheek antics are not to be missed. Do bring cash to throw into the tip hat at the end: we wouldn’t want these hunks to run out of baby oil now, would we?
Wham! Bam! Kaboom! Written and performed by Mod Carousel. The Brickhouse, London E1 6RU. 8-12, 15-19, 26, 29-31 May, 1, 2, 6, 8, 9, 13, 15 June, 21:00. £10-45. http://www.modcarousel.com