Previews

Mirror, Mirror On The Wall, Who Is The Best Burlesquer Of Them All?

Reuben Kaye's Cafe des Distractions is taking over the Friday night slot at Piccadilly's Cafe de Paris.Read more

Organised by Agent Burlieque and Burlesque Bible, tomorrow night sees the first Burlesque Awards with ten star acts scheduled to perform.

The votes have been gathered and counted, the trophies have been polished and on Wednesday, the Burlesque Awards (hosted by Reuben Kaye, above) will be handed out to an international array of stars.

It will not only be individual performers that are recognised but troupes and shows too. Past performers will be recognised with an “Inspiration From The Past” award and there are separate prizes for boylesque and burlesque dancers as well for best festival and best competition.

There will also be specialist awards for Best Gender Bending Performer (sponsored by This Is Cabaret) as well as Best Compere, Best Costumier and Best Political Voice.

A distinguished panel of judges (photographers Neil Kendall and Suelan Allison, producers Saph Rox and Vivacity Bliss and This Is Cabaret’s editor-in-chief Franco Milazzo) have picked twelve performers for the grand prize of Best Burlesquer 2016, ten of which will perform on the night. The breadth and depth of talent for this award is a true testimony to the current quality of the UK burlesque scene and includes video projection artiste Ana Morphic, the multi-talented Fancy Chance and the latex-loving Marnie Scarlet.

The chosen dozen are:

  • Ana Morphic
  • Bourgeoisie
  • Cece Sinclair
  • Dave The Bear
  • Fancy Chance*
  • Felicity Furore
  • Havana Hurricane*
  • Lilly SnatchDragon
  • Lolo Brow
  • Marnie Scarlet
  • Velma Von Bon Bon
  • Vicky Butterfly

* not performing

The Awards take place at Proud Cabaret. Doors open at 7 and the action kicks off at 8pm. Seating is on a first come, first served basis.

Some tickets are still available and information on location, ticket prices and their availability can be found here.


Who Wants To Go All Vintage In London This Month?

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Tally-ho! Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be the wags say but there’s no denying the creeping feeling that having a jolly time was something done better way back when. Over the next two Saturdays, cocktail creators par excellence Bourne & Hollingsworth are putting on two immersive parties which vintage fans should dive into.

For those aficianados of the Forties, their Blitz Party is the place to be this Saturday (10 September) at the iconic Village Underground. Harking back to an era when warplanes were in the sky, victory rolls were in style and your great-grandfather was in your great-grandmother, this shindig been powering ahead since 2009, no doubt partly because it is far more than a party. Sure, there is music and cocktails aplenty but there is a decidedly dramatic twist to it all: theatre and narrative are used to evoke the wartime era and guests get to dance under searchlights while choosing their next sharpener from a ration book.

Then there’s the Prohibition Party the following Saturday (17 September) at a secret London speakeasy. In contrast to the current situation, the 1920s were a time when the actions of an unfriendly government and zealous law enforcement officials led to many a club closing and the very fabric of urban nightlife being threatened. Almost a century later, this particular hoo-ha celebrates those long-gone times with considerable sass and style. Get down and dirty with a dash of Charleston dancing, sip a cheeky cocktail or sing loudly along in memory of that most rambunctious of decades. They weren’t called the Roaring Twenties for nothing, you know.

Both parties begin at 8pm but there is also the option of attending the Charleston and Swing dance classes beforehand, starting at 7pm for both events.

The Blitz Party is on Saturday 10 September at Village Underground while the Prohibition Party will be on Saturday 17 September. Tickets for both events are £30 (£40 including the dance class) and can be purchased on the official Bourne & Hollingworth ticket site.

Image: Maya Jancar

Roll Up For The Sheffield Burlesque And Cabaret Extravaganza

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This August Bank Holiday, Sheffield will have its first cabaret and burlesque festival featuring a fantastic cast of performers. 

Next week, the Sheffield Burlesque and Cabaret Extravaganza will present a veritable cavalcade of local, national and international talent. Over four evenings, a riotous variety of vaudevillians – from dancers and singers to contortionists and mime artists – will take to the Library Theatre stage. Each night will be hosted by top notch comperes: Abigail Collins (Thursday), Joe Black (Friday), Amber Topaz (Saturday) and Reuben Kaye (Sunday).

Produced by Lara Gothique and her Velvet Burlesque company, the festival in the self-proclaimed “largest village in England” will be part of a landmark year for the Northern burlesque and cabaret scene. This April’s Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival became the first ever such event to receive Arts Council funding. The Velvet Curtain Cabaret in May began a new era of vaudeville in Leeds’ historic City Varieties Music HallInternational burlesquer extraordinaire Dirty Martini appeared in not one but two shows, visiting Leeds and Manchester last month while in October another American icon, the headmistress of the New York School Of Burlesque Jo “Boobs” Weldon, will be headlining Burlesque Noir at the Blackpool Tower.

The Sheffield festival’s shows will be complemented by daytime workshops on Saturday and Sunday with some of the festival’s most experienced performers passing on inside tips. The classes cover a range of subjects including dance, make-up, hair-styling and circus skills. The classes are held at the HYPE Dance Studio and The Showroom Workstation.

In addition, renowned photographer Neil “Nez” Kendall will also be bringing his Burlesque & Striptease Museum to the main foyer of Sheffield Central Library on Friday 26 and Saturday 27 August.

Here’s the full rundown of all those appearing at the Sheffield Burlesque and Cabaret Extravaganza shows and workshops.


Thursday 25 August

Host:
Abigail Collins


Performers:

Raymond & Mr. Timpkins
Talulah Blue
Lady Francescca
Raven Noir
Lady Wildflower
Dominic Mattos
Trixie Blue
Kitty Ribbons

More information

 

Friday 26 August

Host:
Joe Black

Performers:
Jeanie Wishes
Arran Shurvinton
Whisky Falls
Cece Sinclair
Miss Knockout Noire
The Flapper Tappers
Oh! Carolina
Diva Hollywood
The Magic Ball Man
Ana Kiss
Pinky DeVille
Carrie Couture

More information

 

Saturday 27 August

Host:
Amber Topaz

Performers:
Josephine Shaker
Tricity Vogue
Aurora Galore
Terms of Unnervement
Pixie Le Knot & Yasmine Florentine
Lady May Den-Voyage
Steve Faulkner
Molly Moonstone
Rock Hart

More information

 

Sunday 28 August

Host:
Reuben Kaye

Performers:
Duo Bogof
Scarlett Daggers
Verity Grey
Didi Derriere
Angelica Cardone
Betty Blue Eyes
Micky Bimble
Hells Belle

More information

 

Workshops & Classes

Whip cracking for Stage & Fun – Diva Hollywood
Pin-Up Hair Styles – Gypsy Rose Salon
Charleston & Jazz Steps – Josephine Shaker
Stage Make-Up – Joe Black & Arran Shurvinton
Burl-Ecstasy – Amber Topaz
Fan Dancing – Aurora Galore
Circus Skills for Children – Emily Rose Greenwood

More information on all workshops


The Sheffield Burlesque and Cabaret Extravaganza runs from Thursday 25 to Sunday 28 August at the Library Theatre, Sheffield. For full information on each show and the workshops, check out the official website.

Finger In The Pie Waves Goodbye And Gives Us All The Wunderfinger

Wunderfinger, London WondergroundRead more

Some go out with a bang and some with a whimper but, in true cabaret style, iconic cabaret company Finger In the Pie are blasting out in style by giving us all the Wunderfinger. Charming.

With its two final shows on 2 and 16 August, Finger In The Pie will be waving goodbye to a cabaret scene that it has been part of for over a decade.

Run by Alexander Parsonage and Flavia Fraser-Cannon, its regular shows at Madame Jojo’s featured many up-and-coming artists who are now revered across the variety spectrum, not least drag queens Myra DuBois and Michael Twaits, musical comedy’s Bourgeois & Maurice and mime artist Doctor Brown.

They were behind the Mimetic Festival which for a number of years brought some of the best theatre and cabaret shows around to Enfield and the Vaults in Waterloo; the shows gave a valuable platform to some of the fiercest acts to wander onto a stage, not least utterly filthy trio The Ruby Darlings and drag terrorist Baby Lame. They have also run classes in drag, character comedy and spoken word at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern and Soho Theatre with expert practitioners passing on their experience and knowledge to the next generation.

It’s Baby Lame who leads the charge on the last Finger In The Pie show. Named Wunderfinger, it also features the London Cabaret Award-winning Lilly Snatchdragon, clowns Pi The Mime, Kiki Lovechild and Holli Dillon, aerialist Josie-Beth Davies and fiery duo The Fire Factory.

Quite what that talented crew have in store for us during this adults-only show is anyone’s guess but, however they wave goodbye, Finger In The Pie will leave some mighty large boots to fill.

Finger In The Pie’s Wunderfinger will be at London Wonderground on 2 and 16 August. Tickets are £15 including a £1 booking fee and the show is strictly 18+. More information can be found on the London Wonderground website.

 

Le Gateau Chocolat: “The Disenfranchised Need A Voice, Society Needs A Mirror, Governments Need To Be Held Accountable”

Le Gateau Chocolat will be re-appearing at the Spiegeltent on 30 July.Read more

To call Le Gateau Chocolat a unique individual may be the understatement of the century. The larger-than-life alt-drag bass singer who turned down a career in law has trotted the globe with the Olivier Award-winning La Soiree, raised the roof with barnstorming Spiegeltent shows, movingly revealed the intimate details of his life in BLACK and paid tribute to his favourite stars in new show ICONS.

He’s also shown he can play well with others. His A Night at the Musicals with East End drag legend Jonny Woo debuted at the Adelaide Festival earlier this year but has been seen before and after around London at venues as diverse as thriving gay pub The Glory and upmarket pizza parlour basement The Pheasantry. This year has also seen him step onto the National Theatre stage in the latest version of Kurt Weill and Berthold Brecht’s The Threepenny Opera.

Next week will see him in a very different environment, that of Latitude Festival (14-17 July). He will be appearing there as part of Soho Theatre’s contribution to the cabaret tent which also features dysfunctional magicians Peter & Bambi  Heaven, alt-dragster Christeene, singer Bridget Everett and comedian Sam Campbell.

We spoke to him as he prepares to entertain Latitude’s wellied masses.


You have had your fingers quite a few pies over the last year, not least ICONS, A Night At The Musicals, La Soiree, The Threepenny Opera and, this summer, your appearance at the Latitude Festival. Apart from filthy lucre, what draws you to a particular project or show?

Sometimes it was the opportunity to work with another artist. With A Night At The Musicals it was Jonny Woo and with ICONS, it was Marty Hailey, musical director extraordinaire.

It’s also important for me to explore new platform and new stages. At the National, I had the opportunity to grow as an artist and extend my audience reach while BLACK gave me the chance to work with the orchestra Psappha Ensemble.

There are so many considerations to be made when making decisions. For instance, there was a spring tour booked for BLACK; Dundee, Manchester, Adelaide but the opportunity to play on the the National stage, in the much respected Threepenny Opera with (National Theatre Artistic Director) Rufus Norris at the helm was too good to miss. Thankfully the presenters from all the respective venues and festivals agreed and were conscientious enough to release and reschedule the project.

 

“It’s incumbent on the performer to help people forget, dream, imagine, feel.”

 

A festival tent is not your usual theatrical space. How do you modify your performance to that kind of environment?

Firstly, by not making a fringe or tent show but by always committing to make the best show you can at the point of its inception.

Yes, some of my repertoire is better suited to black box or theatrical environments but my first show, for instance, played both the Bosco tent at Brighton Fringe and the theatre at Menier Chocolate Factory. It’s incumbent on the performer to assemble the ingredients necessary to help people forget, dream, imagine, feel, be entertained from lights to dramaturgical considerations – all these story telling tools must never be undermined.

Also, I think there is currency to be had in relishing the juxtaposition of high art in low places or vice versa. Doing the running man with Sharlene from Basement Jaxx looking like a loofah sponge on the Barbican stage was simply heaven.

 

When not on stage, will you be gadding about the festival or will this just be a flying visit?

I think it might be a flying visit though Jonny Woo has just asked if I might be interested in a singing with the Glory presentation. I think Richard Thomas (Jerry Springer: The Opera) might be on piano and I love him. He’s hilarious.

 

“Going beyond one’s comfort zone breeds an exponential growth and learning that can’t be taught.” 

 

Kurt Weill, who provided the music to The Threepenny Opera, was encouraged by his parents and tutors to go down a more elitist and traditional career path yet he felt that music should be something enjoyed by all. Should classically-trained artists be encouraged to go beyond their comfort zone and reach out to the public?

After not taking up a place at Guildhall and being subsequently rejected by the Royal Academy, not thinking laterally was imperative.

The operatic stages are seldom peopled by minorities and as I much as I love the art form, it does nothing to encourage or inspire me to pursue it, for it becomes an exhausting enterprise but that’s a much longer conversation.

Imagine the time when I could’ve taken my niece, in the Seventies at the Met, to see Leontyne Price sing Cio-Cio San in Madame Butterfly? Incredible. In that vein, rather wonderful to read of Sheku Kanneh-Mason’s Young Musician of the Year win.  Going beyond one’s comfort zone breeds an exponential growth and learning that can’t be taught.

 

What is the role, then, for the government or the academies in realising an artist’s potential? 

Whether there’s a “happy ever after” is often down to all three of the government, the academies and most importantly, the artist. Not everyone who train is going to be working at the opera house or ENO or Opera North etc but it doesn’t mean one is a failure.

There are so many avenues to explore. And I think seeds of industriousness should be planted by academies to encourage to dream big but with tenaciousness and variety.  I think the government have an important role to play but that’s a much bigger conversation and certain not with jokes like Nicky Morgan as the minister for education downgrading the important of arts in our society in praise of STEM subjects.

 

“The disenfranchised need a voice, society needs a mirror, governments need to be held accountable.”

 

The classical arts are still very much perceived as something done by and for the white middle classes, chiefly in London. Would you say that was an accurate description? Do you see this ever changing? 

It very much is. I have only ever experienced a truly diverse audience at the Unity Theatre, Liverpool. A little at the Albany but everywhere else, it’s been mostly as you describe: white middle class.

Even at Edinburgh Fringe. That said, being in the audiences of both Amen Corner at the National and In the Heights was really thrilling as they were very mixed. I will say, it has been extraordinary rehearsing at the National at the moment; The Flick, The Suicide, Le Blanc, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom– all playing.

There’s a comfort, an encouraging comfort that comes from that level of diversity. And hopefully, the programming reaches out to different communities and showcases the very concept that theatre and art is for everybody.

“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable” said Banksy. Never a truer word said. The disenfranchised need a voice, society needs a mirror, governments need to be held accountable. Voices are found, developed and amplified with the support of public arts funding. The importance of which should never be undermined or over estimated.

We live in a world where Idris Elba is “too street” to play Bond. A black Hermione despite approval from the author J.K. Rowling, breeds such outrage. Again, I think there’s a much bigger conversation here. I take the responsibility of this platform very seriously, we could talk about this for hours but whilst the conversation needs to be had, one must continue to seek different avenues and platforms to show work.

 

Do you think the shrinking purse of public arts funding will encourage or restrict artists from alternative backgrounds breaking through?

BLACK was created with such funds. Duckie, who I working with, was unfortunately unsuccessful in its bid but was thankfully still workshopped with the kind support of Colchester Arts Centre, the Wolsey Theatre and Norwich Arts Centre. Restricting this funding or constant cuts to it will mean whole communities might not be heard and the privileged remain de riguer.

 

 

Where can people see you after Latitude Festival?

I’m at The Threepenny Opera at the National till September, ICONS in soho theatre at some point this year, Duckie, a new family show being discussed as a Christmas run at the Southbank, BLACK will be at the Dublin Theatre Festival followed by an autumn tour somewhere in London.

Failing all of that, there for the travelling amongst you (should this materialise, I might actually die) Wagner’s Tannhauser in, wait for it, Bayreuth!

Latitude Festival takes place this year from Thursday 14-Sunday 17 July. 

Fancy Chance Goes Back To The Beginning In Her New Show

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In a scene which thrives on variety, Fancy Chance has one of the most diverse repertoires of all. We’ve seen her as a drag king at Alternative Eurovision, stripping at the Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival, hair-hanging at The Double R Club and The Raunch and telling about her earliest days as part of Nathan Evan’s ensemble show I Love You But We Only Have Fourteen Minutes To Save The Earth.

She has teamed up with Evans again for her new one-woman soirée Fancy Chance: Flights Of Fancy which will be at Soho Theatre on 21 and 22 June. Once again, she’ll be talking candidly about her childhood in Korea and America and her inexorable rise to being one of the most unpredictable stars of the London cabaret scene.

Before she tells the audience everything, we got our own exclusive insight into this much-admired performer and put to her some of our most burning questions.


Let’s get the most burning question out of the way first. What’s the inspiration behind your name?

It’s actually quite simple. I was asked to by Indigo Blue to be in BurlyQ: A Queer Cabaret burlesque troupe and had to choose a stage name. I liked the term “fancy pants” and the song Fancy by Bobby Gentry and decided do a play on words. Ironically it makes more sense in the UK but rhymes more with an American accent.

 

How does this show related to your part of I Love You But…? Will you use that as a starting point or are you taking a new approach?

I gained a lot confidence in my performing capabilities with that show. It really showed how well Nathan and I work together, so it was only natural that I have a stab at doing a solo show. Most of the material is actually new but drawing on themes and subjects I’ve used before and I Love You But…. has inspired certain parts.

 

What still appeals about cabaret? What in particular drove you to perform in this corner of the entertainment business in the first place? 

I’m still in this “business” partly because I don’t know what else I can do and there is a great sense of community and creativity all around.

I accidentally ended up in cabaret as a “profession”. I started out just doing weird dance and band projects as a hobby. When I did burlesque, I found out that my sense of humour translated well on stage.

In the early 2000s, neo-burlesque scene was still quite varied and had a playful experimental punk quality to it; it really gave me an education about stagecraft without the pressure of trying to satisfy the audiences’ expectations. Next thing I knew, I was getting booked and I was working harder to create interesting and fun pieces and was eventually able to support myself.

 

Fancy Chance hair-hanging as part of The Double R Club’s 2014 show at the London Wonderground.

 

You’ve covered more genres than most cabaret artists, not least drag, circus, burlesque and performance art. What gives you the impetus to explore new areas rather than, as some do, just mine one particular art form? 

I think all of them can overlap and I’ve just naturally ended up covering those different genres because it it was what was asked of me either by myself or a production.  As the years of experience have increased, I find that I can’t actually stick to a particular art form.

 

Do you ever worry about repeating yourself?

I worry about being good. I don’t care about repeating myself as long as what I’m doing is quality shit.

 

Through all your different acts, would you say there was an artistic or personal thread through them all?

Absolutely! I find that the only good material I’ve created has come from something that I’ve taken a personal interest in or draws from my experiences.

 

Do you have a preferred or typical creative processes when working on new acts or the latest show?

Full on freak out mode, wine and a hot glue gun.

 

You often work alone but you are currently appearing in as part of Empress Stah’s The Raunch. What persuaded you to join the show?

I’ve known and worked in the same circles as Stah for ages now and loved the concept of the show. I really didn’t need persuading.

Stah is the director but we developed the acts that I appear in together with the songs that had been chosen. It’s been amazing hair hanging so many times in a row. I really feel that part of my skill set is improving.

 

One of our favourite routines of yours sees you transform from a Kim Jong-il character to Prince. Where did you get the idea for that pairing?

I think I’ve only done the Kim Jong il to Prince once! I did it for Alternative Eurovision with the most hilarious set of backing dancers. I do believe I got cabaret royalty to dress in skimpy leotards, sunglasses and scarves. I had already been satirising Kim Jong Il for ages and had been doing lots of appearances as Prince and thought pairing them together for Eurovision was perfect. North Korea was like Israel.

 

Now that both men have died, have you retired it?

Only when I DIE.

 

Fancy Chance can be seen in her one-woman show Fancy Chance: Flights Of Fancy at Soho Theatre on 21 and 22 June.

The Story And History Behind Velvet Curtain Cabaret

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This week, vaudeville returns to one of Yorkshire’s iconic music halls. On 27 May, the City Varieties Hall in Leeds will host The Velvet Curtain Cabaret, a show with a phenomenal line-up of burlesque and variety headlined by Kitten ‘N’ Lou (voted top of the latest global Top 50 poll). This special night is co-produced and starring Havana Hurricane  and Penny Sweets of Leeds Burlesque. We spoke to Penny and asked about the gem of a venue and what they have planned for Friday.


I remember the very first time I set foot inside Leeds’ City Varieties Music Hall. It was in 2008 before the venue was fully restored by a National Lottery grant but, everywhere I looked, I had that feeling of overwhelming opulence: the drapes, the plush claret seating, the soft golden lights dancing and reflecting on every gilt cornice.

This place is undeniably special. Built in 1865 and hidden down Swan Street, a side road of one of the city’s busiest shopping districts, you could be forgiven for not even knowing City Varieties is there. A hidden gem, the theatre is beautifully preserved as a theatrical time capsule retaining the very essence of the music halls of the 1860s.

From that first moment, I knew that I wanted to be on that stage, to tread the boards that had once lain beneath the feet of such greats as Harry Houdini, Charlie Chaplin and the “Queen of the Music Hall” herself, Marie Lloyd.

Excitement Playbill - Credit Leeds Library and Information Service www.leodis.net (forward slash) playbills With a reputation of bringing top class entertainment to the masses throughout the coming decades, City Varieties became renowned in the Fifties and Sixties for presenting some of the biggest names in burlesque. The venue quickly gathered a reputation for being a hot spot for northern vaudeville, providing stunning fan dance, comedy burlesque and setting hearts racing with saucy “bump ‘n’ grind”.

At its height in the 1960s, burlesque performers such as Puerto Rico’s Baby Doll, also known as the Atomic Bombshell, and the UK’s very own Rhoda Rogers were frequently gracing the stage. As the glitter settled over the years, burlesque fell out of favour with the public and, although the cabaret continued at City Varieties, the fare was far more family-friendly with only the memories of our peers and the fallen sequins between the cracks in the boards remaining.

When burlesque beauty Havana Hurricane joined me in running Leeds Burlesque last year, I knew that my new business partner was a kindred spirit, we shared a vision of bringing about a burlesque revival to the old music hall. After a lot of tough negotiating and some gentle pleading with the venues management team, we agreed terms and were given the tour.

I remember so clearly that we both held our breaths as we climbed the steps on to the beautifully raked stage. This was it, the moment we had both waited for greater part of a decade for – and it was magical! The lights seemed more even more brilliant as we stood in silent awe and imagined the rows of plush seats filled with happy faces. We felt at home.

We wanted to bring a regular cabaret night that would echo the music hall revues that the venue was so famous for. With the memory of the lavish furnishings still clear in our minds, the name seemed to come so naturally and that is where The Velvet Curtain Cabaret was born.

So on the 27th May 2016 we are bringing a line-up of some of the greatest names in cabaret, a stellar international cast bringing us burlesque, drag, singing, sword swallowing, knife throwing, hula hoop, mind reading and even a few surprises that we are keeping well and truly under our hats.

Our Cast:

<strong>Headliners Kitten 'N' Lou (c) Eli Schmidt</strong>
Headliners Kitten ‘N’ Lou (c) Eli Schmidt

Kitten ‘N’ Lou

Known as the worlds “Show Busiest Couple”, Kitten ‘N’ Lou were voted number 1 in the world in the latest Top 50 poll run by 21st Century Burlesque and received the “Most Comedic” accolade from the Burlesque Hall of Fame.

Kiki De’Ville

Known as Australia’s Sweetheart, Kiki has been seen on BBC’s The Voice (where she was championed by WillIAm) and none other than the Sydney Olympics! Kiki is quite rightfully the UK’s most sought after burlesque chanteuse!

Death Do Us Part Danger Show

Charlie and Rachel Atlas, a husband and wife duo who are pushing the boundaries in modern vaudeville bring the kind of knife-throwing acts that would previously only be seen in a circus of yesteryear to modern cabaret.

Havana Hurricane

One half of Leeds Burlesque, having performed all over the UK, Europe, America and Australia; Havana is a shimmy shakin’, earth quakin’ whirlwind of an international burlesque sensation!

Em Brulée

Featured on BBC’s Symphony for Yorkshire and a Double R Club regular, Em Brulée has performed her velvety vocals the length and breadth of our fair Isle.

Gossamer Thread Vaudeville

Gossamer Thread’s Vaudeville Company is made up of aerialist, razor-blade swallower and spinner of hoops Daisy Black, and Alex McAleer, who combines contemporary mind reading with a flair for showmanship.

Finally, taming our troupe of vaudevillians is host and compere for the evening, the second half of Leeds Burlesque; Penny Sweets

We’re delighted to both be able to feature in our first show and you can be assured that the second is already in formation, and it promises to be an extravaganza that will stay true to our ethos of true variety.

More information on the The Velvet Curtain Cabaret can be found here; https://www.cityvarieties.co.uk/Online/VelvetCurtain

Playbill is courtesy of Leeds Library and Information Service. More information on them can be found at http://www.leodis.net/playbills

Is The World Ready For Burlesqu-aoke?

Burlesq-aoke hosted by Mysti VineRead more

What’s that? Burlesque and karaoke? What kind of crazy combination is this? Answer: the fun kind!

Singing and stripping have been cosy bedfellows for decades. These days, the likes of Miss Polly Rae and Amber Topaz display considerable chops in both departments. Indeed, it is hard to imagine the early days of burlesque without picturing some saucy songbird somewhere in the mix. But karaoke instead of singing? That’s a new one.

Launching this week, Burlesqu-aoke presents two distinct kinds of entertainment which for unfathomable reasons have yet to be brought together under one roof. As a comedian, burlesque artist and much-loved compere of London cabaret institution Bar Wotever, effervescent producer Mysti Vine already has enough feathers in her cap to fly her back to her native Canada.

On Thursday, la Vine will host the inaugural outing at the Hackney Attic and promises a night of live burlesque performances complemented by opportunities for the audience to show off their vocal talents (or lack thereof). There will be no shortage of entertainment, much of it intentional, as well as the chance to shake a leg and grind the night away as DJ Dave keeps the party pumping from behind his decks.

Proving that you don’t need an offshore account to save money, tickets are £6 in advance or £8 on the door. More information on Burlesqu-aoke can be found right over here.

Why We’re Ridiculously Excited About This Year’s Alternative Eurovision

Anna Greenwood, Alternative EurovisionRead more

There are very, very few events we look forward to and the ever-popular Alternative Eurovision is one of them. This year’s could be the best yet.

With the Eurovision Song Contest happening just a few weeks before the UK potentially gives the rest of the EU a one-fingered salute, there is no better time to appreciate the finest contribution our nearest international neighbours have given our country. It may be a kitsch collision of disco, nationalism, bizarre fashion choices and downright weirdness but there’s no denying that it makes for event television.

Glamorous host Anna Greenwood is back to introduce another sparkling set of entrants.
Glamorous host Anna Greenwood is back to introduce another sparkling set of entrants.

Arguably even better than the real thing is Alternative Eurovision, an unmissable annual cabaret spectacular presented by The ProducersUK which will be rocking the the London Wonderground’s Spiegeltent on 13 May. The premise is simple: some of the finest musical talents around to represent a country of their choice. Past victors have included France’s Marcel Lucont with his Merde-Oui and, representing Bethlehem, musical siblings Bourgeois & Maurice‘s Out Outfit You which came with a brilliant video.

Every act is left to their own devices to represent their chosen nation in a style of their choosing. Quite what this will mean is anyone’s guess: who can forget Ophelia Bitz who, on behalf of the Vatican State, stormed the stage accompanied by a phalanx of stripping nuns and hunky disciples passing out condoms while vintage porn played overhead?

For the first time, This Is Cabaret has been asked to held producers TheProducersUk pick the entrants. Many of our favourites will be there, not least deviant trio The Ruby Darlings who were winners of the first This Is Cabaret Award For Best Newcomer). Then there’s Lady Carol who marries one of the most gorgeous voices around with winsome wit, loungemeister Frank Sanazi who wrote what was acclaimed as the funniest gag at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe and Sarah-Louise Young’s maudlin madame La Poule Plombèe.

Here’s the full list of who’s appearing and who they are representing:

Desmond O’Connor (UK)
EastEnd Cabaret (Italy/Vatican city)
Frank Sanazi (Russia)
Ida Barr (Belgium)
Kirsty Newton (Malta)
La Poule Plombèe (France)
Lady Carol (Ireland)
Ria Lina (Germany)
Ruby Darlings (Latvia)

Get those flags ready: Alternative Eurovision (supported by This Is Cabaret) is on 13 May and ticket information can be found on the official London Wonderground site.

Latitude Festival Announces Line-Up For Comedy & Cabaret Tent And It’s Actually Quite Good

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Festival tents may be the antithesis of cabaret’s usual urban haunts but this year’s Latitude line-up is an enticing prospect.

The Latitude Festival will return to its usual Suffolk pitch from 14-17 July with its usual heady mix of music, poetry, theatre and more. This summer, that “more” will include a cabaret tent with an incredibly appealing roster of stars from the UK and beyond.

The miming maniac from Down Under known as The Boy With Tape On His Face will be demonstrating why he is the acceptable face of vaudeville insanity while Reggie Watts will be throwing beatboxing, singing, improv into a virtual blender to create an ingenious comedy cocktail.

We raved about Desmond O’Connor’s new musical Royal Vauxhall when it was first staged last month. Whether the story of what happened to Princess Di, Freddy Mercury and Kenny Everett on a night out will have the same impact outside the RVT will be fascinating to see.

Dean Street doyens Soho Theatre have an enviable array of performers for their showcase, not least Le Gateau Chocolat (above), Christeene and Peter and Bambi aka La Soirée‘s Asher “SLAAAADE!” Treleaven and Gypsy Wood.

You can find Ursula Martinez, the performance artist who franchises out her most famous act, in the Duckie tent alongside drag royalty in the form of Myra Dubois The latter is going to be hosting the show so expect some exquisite zingers fired left, right and centre as she introduces RVT favourites Figs in Wigs and Barbara Brownskirt & The Frank Chickens.

Last but not least, the hub of East End drag fabulousness known as The Glory are bringing a variety show. Alongside their in-house band, the pub’s “landladies” Jonny Woo and John Sizzle will be presenting some stars of their brilliant drag king contests Lipsync1000 and Man Up!

More information on Latitude Festival can be found on the official website. Tickets are currently on sale.