by MIKE CHAIKEN
For the standing room audience at Bridge Street Live in Collinsville last Friday, the stresses of the holiday melted away.
And it was all thanks to Burlesque-A-Pades’ “Christmas Shimmy,” featuring Angie Pontani, Helen Pontani, the Maine Attraction, Albert Cadabra, and special Connecticut guest Dot Mitzvah.
I, for one, didn’t stop laughing. And I smiled from beginning to end because of the burlesque antics of the cast.
For a couple of hours, the pressures of work and the impending shopping deadlines became less important.
Although at face a parody of Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol,” this show is more of an excuse to trot out variations on old burlesque routines, magic tricks, and pretty women in elaborate costumes dancing their way to G-strings– and then somehow tie it into the fable of “Alber-neezer” Scrooge.
Modern audiences unfamiliar with burlesque may find the thought of the art form musty and outdated. However, it must be said that the Burlesque-A-Pades crew brings the art form (and it is an art) screaming into the 21st century. And the audiences are all the better for it.
First of all, the cast keeps the show moving at a zippy pace, perfect for audiences used to fast forwarding through slow-bits.
Secondly, they don’t take themselves too seriously. The comedy and the dancing is all delivered with a nod and wink. They know some of the routines can be a bit cheesy. But the performers clearly are having fun. And they make sure the audience is having fun as well.
With a good number of shows under their belt before arriving in Connecticut, it is clear the cast knows the show inside and out. The cast members’ confidence in the material is clear. This also means there were plenty of opportunities for comedy improv that added to the fun for the audience (and the performers who made themselves laugh a couple of times).
The audience at Bridge Street Live also was key to the success of the Dec. 19 performance. The people at Bridge Street Live were definitely fans of burlesque. They were ready to have fun. And they clearly enjoyed the Pontanis, the Maine Attraction, and Albert Cadabra.
They were willing to go wherever the cast wanted to take them.
How receptive was the audience? Well, how many times have you seen a woman lick the honey off the skull of a bald magician? Even Albert Cadabra was surprised.
That’s the kind of audience energy that inspires a performance.
It was also great to see Burlesque-A-Pades reach out to some of the local burlesque talent. Connecticut’s Dot Mitzvah joined the cast and proved that the local burlesque scene has a good deal of zip as well. Audiences definitely should try to catch her when she hits the local stages.
Angie Pontani is a superstar in the world of burlesque. She truly reinforced her reputation at the Dec. 19 show. And her sister Helen, the Maine Attraction, and Albert Cadabra are top-notch partners in crime and clearly deserve their own recognition as well.
This is the second year Burlesque-A-Pades has come to Bridge Street Live. And I hope it becomes a holiday tradition. Given the quality of the performance, and the size and pleasure of the audience, a 2015 performance seems a near certainty.
I give Burlesque-A-Pades “Christmas Shimmy” at Bridge Street Live on Dec. 19 four out of four stars.
Burlesque-A-Pades returns to Connecticut Tuesday when it performs at Café 9, 250 State St., New Haven.
PHOTOS by MIKE CHAIKEN