Sunday, July 29, 2012

KC Fringe "Burlesque & Beggars" review by kellyluck

A thoroughly enjoyable wink back
Rating: 5

Burlesque & Beggars
KC Fringe Festival

Did I ever tell you about the time I went to a strip club?

It was... oh, well, ages ago. Decades, probably. A friend was going, and I thought I would tag along, see what it was like. I'd never been to one before, so I wasn't sure what to expect as paid the cover and found a table near the stage. What followed was one of the dreariest things I'd ever seen on stage: a parade of world-weary dancers swaying halfheartedly to extinct hits of the 80's before disappearing backstage only to re-emerge with big flesh-colored pasties and do it all over again. It was stunningly unerotic. After a few hours of watching it over and over, I swore off on ever darkening the door of such a place again.

This, on the other hand... this was not like that at all.

"Burlesque and Beggars" is a joint production between KC & St Louis Burlesque groups. And they do mean Burlesque -- this s a gleeful throwback to the golden age of vaudeville. Fanciful costumes, an emphasis on humor and athleticism, and the sheer delight the performers have for the material invoke the Moulin Rouge more than the concrete block "gentleman's club" on the outskirts of town.

The performers are all very talented, some in astonishing physical condition to perform the tricks we saw. The costumes are elaborate and gorgeously made, and the dancers make a point of playing "in character" throughout the program. Of particular note ar the "clowns" who sweep in after each number and collect the discarded garments. Running gags are introduced and followed through to the end, all along a sense of fun is preserved; one really gets the impression the performers are enjoying the show as much as the audience, who laughed, hooted, stomped their feet and generally had a ball.

The Fringe is all about uncharted territory, trying new things, stepping out of one's comfort zone. This is why I ended my Fringe experience with my first burlesque, and I am glad I did. The KC burlesque scene is apparently thriving, and now that I've seen what can be done with the medium in skilled hands, I can understand why. If you get an opportunity to see what they are up to, by all means do so. Leave your expectations behind, but by all means bring your sense of humor.

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