Montreal Fringe Festival 2013 – ACME Burlesque

It’s a rainy Thursday evening (June 6th) and I’m on my way back to the MainLine Theatre for another dose of Montreal Fringe Festival ac-ti-on. It’s evident that tonight’s show is about to be absolutely packed, as I see scores of people lining up to buy tickets while others crowd around drinking St-Ambroise apricot beer (seriously, try it).

Myself and everyone else are all here tonight to watch Acme Burlesque, co-produced by the beautiful Seska Lee, who’s been a burlesque performer for over 10 years. She brings with her a talented group of performers, a live band (Shayn Gryn & and The Acme Combo) playing everything from jazz to pop, and even a magician (Christian Cagigal, who hails from San Francisco).

Seska and Jimmy Phule are the hosts for tonight. Their chemistry is evident as they banter back and forth. Jimmy brings unbelievably energy on stage. You see, he’s from Toronto, but we’ll forgive him for that. And Seska? Well she admits she’s a Boston Bruins fan, but we’ll let that slide as well. Because after all, none of that matters tonight.

What matters are the burlesque performances which blend dancing, humour, acting, hoola-hooping, singing, and of course stripping, all wrapped up in sex appeal. And despite the colourful scarves, dresses, corsets, tutus, suits, top hats, and other items, by the end of the song, they inevitably all come off (much to the delight of the audience).

This is my first burlesque show, I don’t know what to expect, but I do expect to have fun. Helping matters in that department are the audience members in the middle front row, cheering and hilariously teasing the hosts at every opportunity (in fact, there’s a lot of teasing going on tonight). When Christian the magician performs his mind-reading act, I can hear one of them yell, “take off your clothes!” It’s just that kind of night.

Lady Hoops 2012-01-14

(Lady Hoops, photo courtesy of


List of main performers:

Cherry Typhoon ( Originally from Tokyo, Japan, she’s the final performer of the night, garnering loud cheers.

Frenchy Jones: Her outfit reminds me of a flapper-girl from the Roaring 20’s. Not surprisingly, she’s got many fans in the audience.

Lady Hoops ( She performs with four hoola-hoops. At the same time. This is obviously much more difficult than it sounds.

Libertine Rose: Seska Lee admits to having a crush on her. After Libertine’s performance, I think it’s safe to say we all have a major crush on her.

Lulu Les Belles Mirrettes ( The very first act; a great start to the night.

Penny Romanoff: Never have I been so attracted to a woman wearing a ballerina outfit.

Punani DiFranco: Best. Name. Ever. She’s got tons of stage energy.

Seska Lee ( During her performance, I note that burlesque can also be part storytelling. Like Cherry, she’s just a pro.

Sucre à la Crème : Tall. Blonde. Beautiful. She’s the spotlight singer tonight and performs two songs, including a charming cover of a Tim Minchin song.

Sophie Protopoulos ( Shorter. Blonde. Just as beautiful. She joins the band as one of the vocalists.

Shayn Gryn ( A co-producer of this show, he’s also the musical director and one of the vocalists.

Christian Cagigal ( The magician from San Francisco performs card tricks, “mind-reading” tricks, who is  even surprisingly funny on stage.

Esmeralda: One of the final performers of the evening, her attire and make-up are elaborate. If there is such a thing as a cute burlesque performance, this is it.

L. Diablo: A redhead bombshell who struts towards the stage confidently, wearing a three-piece suit and a top hat. Slowly but surely, it all comes off. My favourite performance of the night.

For more information on Acme Burlesque, please visit:

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About Author /

A resident of the mean streets of Little Burgundy (really, it's not that bad), when Ayan isn't studying English Literature at Concordia University (while cursing Milton, Dickens, and Chaucer), you can likely find him yelling at the TV for his beloved Montreal Canadiens. Over the past year, he's written for The Concordian newspaper and had his name mispronounced as "Ian" at least a dozen times (really, I don't mind). He also believes that most situations in life can be related back to Seinfeld (if you haven't seen it, we can't be friends). FYI: you can touch his beard, but donations are welcome.

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