Jingle Belles Burlesque at the Paper Wing Theater
Burlesque? What does that even mean these days? It’s a turn of phrase that conjures Betty Page imagery with tassels and jazz, maybe a little bit of the old vaudeville comedy, your general hodgepodge collection of talents focused around teasing dances and a fair number of naughty bits. For an odd-ball like me, it’s a big seller in attracting my attention and luring me in to a theater with a promise of something a little different. The Paper Wing Theatre plays host to a wonderful Christmas show featuring the proud traditions of Burlesque, complete with audience participation and awesome dance routines that run the range from naughty to silly to intense and just about everything else in between. Let me make this clear... Burlesque is NOT about stripping! It's a show that features dancing, playful teasing, and comedy.
My wife was roped in from the word “go” and was very eagerly anticipating the event. We wanted to rush the theater with a crowd of friends, all of us prepared to hoot and holler in support of the brave folks who would most certainly face a bit of a chill at the very least. But, friends mostly pulled out and we set forth on our journey for the opening night performance with my brother-in-law as an initiate to the theater’s atmosphere. We were met by my dear friend, Remo D, and his wife with whom I settled down in front row while my wife and her brother hovered behind us by a few rows. So we were all good and settled when the show began and our hostess hit the stage with a quick explanation of what “burlesque” was going to be all about and just what we might expect from the performance this evening. She introduced us to her cast, four women, two men, her stage crew, and Santa “The Pole” Clause.
The dancing was incredible. The opening number did everything it needed to do to introduce the audience to the show they had paid to see as a two dancing dolls were wound up by a very excited Santa. Each performer was featured in a number of signature pieces suited to the personalities of their characters; A teasing glove strip, the mixture of a poisonous love potion, a cute “fan” dance using gift boxes and ornaments for props, and a balloon dance featuring audience participation that even included yours truly popping a balloon. The intensity of a brutal tango number sent a hush through the crowd and a little shiver down my spine as the ladies told their story… passion, defiance, obsession, confusion, need, and desire building in each step and turn. The men were certainly not excluded from the festivities as “Lance Lightninghorse” found himself the victim of an amusing stalking that should be seen before being described. All of them were terrific numbers and the performers deserved all the applause, the hooting, the hollering, and the cat calls they received from their audience.
There were a number of sketches and singing bits, including an ode to “Bulemia” from Lightninghorse and a couple’s big decision regarding the “expansion” of their relationship. Continuing running gags between Santa and the Hostess made for a number of hilarious moments and male co-host “King” was a trooper when dealing with vocal enthusiasm from the audience itself. And, in one of those instances that went beyond simple audience participation, the “stage boy” found himself cheered and “encouraged” as he quickly went to work before and after a number of performances. All of the performances led to a fantastic finale that took the roof off with a great song from our hostess and the antics of her mischievous cast.
It’s a cold season. The Paper Wing offers warm entertainment with delicious hot drinks and a great cast of enthusiastic performers. Instead of shoveling out cash for the same old Hollywood theatrics that’ll wind up on a $10 DVD in three months, spend the evening in Monterey and catch this special Holliday engagement while it lasts. Experience something different with a great crowd. Happy Holidays!
5 out of 5.