Montrealers took the time to dress up for Friday night’s performance of The Grand Burlesque Show; there was a lot of feathers and sequins to be seen at the Club Soda. I wished they were as much involved as a audience when it comes to respect the performers on stage! Rarely I’ve seen a crowd being so loud in between performances and during the acts. And the MC’s of the evening, Benjamin and Christelle, cannot be blamed for lack of trying to catch the audience’s attention.
Scarlett James, as expected, was fabulous. Her first act of the evening, a tribute to Lili St. Cyr and her bathtub performance, was happy, sexy and full of taste. Even if this number was previously featured during the 2011 edition of the Grand Burlesque Show, crowd was reacting to it as if it was a first and they got their money’s worth.
Her second appearance, in a “Diamonds are forever” routine, took a bit longer to kick in and felt a bit more mechanical, less spontaneous. But as Miss James was the star of the evening (with the most complex stage set of the show and quite elaborated costumes) that didn’t really seem to matter to a public already sold to her charm.
Some of the best moments of the evening came from the four girls of Productions Plumeria. These cheerful ladies and their bright French Cancan outfits and high-paced choreography conquered the public as soon as they started their Moulin Rouge inspired number, at the beginning of the show. All you can expect from cancan was there, executed restlessly with a high degree of flexibility. They came back twice again in the evening, but their first appearance was by far the most interesting.
Introduced as “a tall glass of badass”, Montreal’s very own Lady Josephine was all you could expect from someone bearing that nickname. Sassy as can be, with the longest legs you can imagine, she was a real firecracker on stage. She brought that satire touch that the show needed to be a full fledged burlesque event.
Ruby Joule, an Austin, Texas based artist, came with a very “old school” skit with her large feather fans. Her use of shadows and of her accessories is truly an art and the grace in which she covers, unveils and props herself with such basic components is a must-see.
Other performances include Australian artist Angelique Allure and her (very ripped) dancers, Loulou Duchess de Rière and her banana belt (in an homage to Josephine Baker), an opera duo (Gabriel Langelier and Chantal Nurse) and Klaxson presenting a tap dance number. It would have added to the variety of the show to see more different body sizes or some male/female impersonators, like in the past editions.
Overall, an interesting show, but the audience outfit contest formula should probably be looked into and possibly adapted or removed; it added an unnecessary length to the evening and didn’t help in maintaining a fast enough pace to avoid the public from constantly switching off in what seemed to be bursts of attention deficit.