21+ Event Review: “Femme Fatale” at Can Can is a most memorable evening!

Review by Keridwyn Deller:
If you’re 21+ and like your performances that are more on the risque side, you won’t want to miss out on their current show “Femme Fatale.” Part live-music, part burlesque, part sensual dance, part feels-like-being-in-a-music-video experience, this production is truly delicious (also delicious? The crab cakes on their menu. Food and drink is served during this event).
Local singer “Prom Queen” joins Can Can cast members Jonny Boy, Shadou, JJ Jones, and Jordan for a memorable live performance in the heart of Pike Place Market.
I had the chance of asking cast members Jonny Boy and Shadou a few questions. Get your tickets now, then check out my interview with them:
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Q: The tone of your performances often shifts from funny, to sexy, to emotionally intense. Which kinds of scenes do you enjoy performing most? Why?
Jonny Boy: I love how we are able to switch moods so quickly during our shows. If I had to be just one thing I would get bored oh-so quickly. I love luring the audience into seeing me as just a clown, then spending three and a half minutes performing a seductive tango with Shadou. I love the balance. If our shows weren’t balanced with seduction, humor, and emotion, I don’t think they would be as honest — and if there is anything to crave from a performer, it’s honesty.
Shadou: The most enjoyable parts of each show shifts for me on a nightly basis. To be honest it depends on how I am feeling, what I have experienced that day, and what the audience is responding to. Sometimes they will LOVE the comedic elements of the show, and other times it’s the sensual duets that get them going. It’s all entertaining for me, and there isn’t a preference as to which side of it I’d prefer to do more or less of. The best part of Can Can as a performer, in my opinion, is that the shows are so expansive in virtue. We do our best to reach every aspect of vaudeville theatre to current trends in live performance, and every minute on stage is different from the last. My motto is “never try to recreate the same moment”.
Q: The can-can is a unique venue, what do you enjoy most about performing there?
Jonny Boy:  I love the intimacy of Can Can. The audience is so close that it doesn’t feel like the separation between patron and performer exists. More so it feels like we are all trying to make that particular night something special. The audience and I want the same thing and its relearning every night how we get there. The challenge and the joy that comes from its accomplishment are why I’m obsessed with performing at Can Can.
Shadou: The intimacy! There is a difference in dancing AT people and dancing FOR people. At Can Can, everyone and everything is so close. The audience, the other dancers, servers, food, drinks, chairs, ceiling . . . everything! It’s a playground for the performers and it makes everything so exciting.
Q: What sets Femme Fatale apart from other recent productions? What sort of mood does this show leave the audience with? 
Jonny Boy: Femme Fatale is amazing! Prom Queen is a force to be reckoned with and our dancers are incredible. We’re continuing to push how we use the space and developed all new apparatus for the dancers to show off their skills on. Simply put, it is a completely new experience for our audience!
Shadou: Femme Fatale is an entirely new process for Can Can. We have the moving parts of song and dance with the surprise elements we love to pack into every show (apparatus, lighting, projections etc). But there is something extremely alluring about the seductiveness of this particular production. The inspiration of Mata Hari (who was such a gorgeous performer, and the original Femme Fatale) has captivated me throughout this process. I love how relevant her story is to what our world is going through right now. As a female in this industry, and frankly on this planet, it is so amazing to be able to recreate our own version of that story and let it shift how we perform. The show isn’t necessarily message driven in that way, but I love the aspect of being inspired internally by who Mata Hari was as a human. The second part of this production is Prom Queen! She is representing our own Mata Hari, and has this amazing voice that just sits in your soul. The production team has catered the creation to fit her vibe. Musically, there are components that are very Prom Queen as well as keeping the electronic elements along with instrumentation unlike a lot of the music we have used before. Outside of the music/vocals, the choreography has been taken to a whole new level. Our space is so unique, as mentioned before, but the real journey with this show is watching how we transform it. So even if you’ve seen a show at Can Can, this is entirely different in how we utilize everything from the catwalk to the back walls. We do our best to pull out all of the stops with each new production, and in my opinion Femme Fatale is one of both physical grace and production dynamics unlike anything we have done on our stage! The creative team is brilliant and the collaborators both on and off stage have resumes anyone would be jealous of. Needless to say, I am beyond thrilled to be a part of the team!
Learn more about the show and get tickets here. Femme Fatale plays now through September 30.
See more photos on Can Can’s Instagram at instagram.com/cancanseattle.
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Review: Riveting “The Color Purple” in Seattle now through July 1

Review by Jeanne Kinley Deller:

This “reimagined” musical production, based on Alice Walker’s 1982 novel The Color Purple, is not for the faint of heart. Tough subject matter surrounds a young girl born into segregation and extreme poverty in the deep south. Emotionally and sexually abused by both her “father” and the man he forces her to marry, Celie (Adrianna Hicks), endures unfathomable cruelty.

Adrianna Hicks’ exacting characterization of Celia, over a period of four decades beginning in the early 1900s, is extraordinary. Hicks flawlessly transitions Celia from a broken, pregnant teen to a powerfully brusque luminary – thankfully!

As The Color Purple’s antagonists age and grow in awareness and empathy, the audience can settle back in their seats with a sigh of relief. Top favorite in song-and-dance relief is the delectable Sofia (Carrie Compere) and chums’ “Hell No!” The seductive rendition of “Any Little Thing” with Sofia and Harpo (J. Daughtry) brings the house down.

Not to be missed, this thought-provoking production (and 2016 Tony Award Winner for Best Musical Revival) of The Color Purple is at The Paramount in downtown Seattle for a limited run now through July 1, 2018. Tickets here.

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Photos by Matthew Murphy

Review: “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill” at ArtsWest now through July 8

Review by Jeanne Kinley Deller:

Reserve your tickets now ArtsWest’s Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill” – Billie Holiday at her finest! Felicia Loud’s reincarnation of Billie Holiday, in one of Ms. Holiday’s solo concerts shortly before her death, is stunning beyond compare. This ArtsWest Playhouse production by Lanie Robertson is theatre in its most authentic art form.

With minimalist stage design, Emerson’s 1950s Bar and Grill fades into the background while Ms. Loud’s legendary Billie Holiday commands every breath of space with her brassy, brave, and beautiful presence. Her songs and autobiographical monologue of oft heart-wrenching memories – life, love, and loss – educate, tickle the funny bone, pull on the heartstrings, and leave the audience awestruck. This was one of those very rare times when both myself and fellow theatre-goers were speechless as the actor departed the stage. That WAS Billie Holiday up there sharing her most intimate stories . . . was it not?

If you’re a jazz fan, a Billie Holiday fan, or someone who simply enjoys music and history, you won’t want to miss Felicia Loud’s demanding performance. “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill” is now playing at ArtsWest in West Seattle now through July 8, 2018. Tickets here. 

ArtsWest 2018 Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill

Photo via ArtsWest

Review: Magnificent “The Picture of Dorian Gray” at Book-it Theatre

Review by Jeanne Kinley Deller:

“The Picture of Dorian Gray” comes to life after a century of being kept in the closet. Now through July 1st, Book-It excels once again! This rendition of Oscar Wilde’s farcical Victorian-era “scandalous” story-telling is delivered in magnificently subtle and oft mysterious tones. Judd Parkin’s clever adaptation is unique in revealing a more factual take on Wilde’s “unabashed and uncensored” works than previously known. Wilde’s original transcript, highly censored and edited in its 1891 printing, went unpublished until 2011. 

Every cast member contributes richly to the Book-It fashion of storytelling – always a delight to behold. Chip Sherman’s (Dorian Gray) portrayal is stealthily, steadily, and skillfully paced in transporting the audience through Dorian’s transitioning, demented, climactic journey. Jon Lutyens (Basil Hallward) is superb as the stalwart artist responsible for Dorian’s infamous painting.

If you have, or have not, previously read “The Picture of Dorian Gray,”  take time to absorb Book-It’s notes (in the lobby as well as in your program) prior to the performance. Accolades to Book-It for remarkably engaging, enlightening Encore Stages programs: the absolute best in pre-show entertainment and education.

You still have time to experience this quirky, scandalous “The Picture of Dorian Gray” at its finest. On view now through July 1, 2018 at Book-It in the Seattle Center. Tickets here.

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Photo by John Ulman.

 

Review: New Dimensions for Victor Hugo’s Hunchback of Notre Dame (now through June 24 at The 5th Avenue)

Review by Jeanne Kinley Deller

Accolades to The 5th Avenue Theatre for unique casting in this musical production of Victor Hugo’s 1831 novel, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” Equally deserving in praise is The 5th’s outstanding, far-reaching education program surrounding deaf and hard-of hearing community awareness.

Foresight in casting Joshua Castille, a highly-accomplished deaf actor, in the lead role demonstrates incredible depth in research, intellect, and heart. In addition to Joshua Castille delivering a spot-on physically-deformed and deaf Quasimodo, the supporting casts’ skills in signing add an entirely new dimension to the stage. You gotta love a musical that engages not only singing but signing (ASL – American Sign Language) gargoyles!  E.J. Cardona’s vocal offerings as The Voice of Quasimodo/sidekick gargoyle are flawless.

It’s enlightening to experience The 5th Avenue opening its doors to such thoroughly creative, thoughtful, inclusive productions. Engaging audiences and the greater community – this production of Hunchback’s includes the 30-person Pacific Lutheran University Choral Union – serves to overshadow devastating effects of those who strive to diminish the human spirit. Thank you, 5th Avenue, for illuminating thought, discussion, and your stage with relevance, intellect, and, most of all, heart.

Don’t miss this new, inspiring rendition of The Hunchback of Notre Dame! On stage now through June 24, 2018 at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre. Learn more here

NOTE: for a limited time, audiences can use this special link to save 25% on select performances:  https://www.5thavenue.org/promo/rhythm.

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Photos by Tracy Martin

Review: Don’t miss the exhilarating tour of Les Misérables (now through June 17 in Seattle)

Review by Jeanne Kinley Deller:

Les Misérables is back in Seattle with a totally exhilarating production at The Paramount Theatre. This epic musical, based on Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel, is magnificent in every way possible.

In its 32nd year, currently the fifth longest-running Broadway show, Les Mis’ staging and scenery have recently been revamped. Inspired by Hugo’s paintings, Matt Kinley has created extraordinarily masterful sets and image design. In perfect tandem is Paule Constable’s magically stunning lighting that exudes brilliance throughout the stage.

The gifts, strengths, and energies of everyone in this most demanding, heart-wrenching production are remarkable. Emily Bautista (Eponine) and Joshua Grosso (Marius) are perfection in their hauntingly beautiful duet, “A Little Fall of Rain” – reminding this reviewer of Hugo’s agony over the drowning of his beloved daughter.

You won’t want to miss a beat of this dynamic Les Mis production – it may be awhile before we Seattleites have an at-home opportunity to again catch it in all its glory. Playing at the lovely Paramount Theatre now through June 17. Tickets here for the Tony-Award winning Les Misérables.

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Photo by Matthew Murphy 

 

Bananas! On now at Can Can Culinary Cabaret

Brandon and I are heading to the Can Can Culinary Cabaret in Pike Place Market in Seattle this week to check out their new show “Bananas!” and explore their menu!

This sounds delightful, don’t you agree?

About the show:

Can Can goes Bananas! for a limited engagement this Spring! Seattle’s only underground and Parisian-inspired Bohemia becomes a steamy oasis beckoning warmer weather. Feast on a specially curated Pike Place Market-fresh menu and handcrafted cocktails as the Can Can Dance Company entertains – burlesque, comedy, song, cabaret, and more. Inspired by riot time classics like “Cry-Baby” and “Grease,” Can Can’s Bananas! is a special paradise, and who doesn’t love a good vacation?

Tickets and more info at thecancan.com

Facebook event page here.

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Hungry for even more info: here you go:

Can Can becomes a steamy oasis beckoning warmer weather with its limited engagement production, Bananas!, which opened to a sold out crowd on Friday night at the intimate Pike Place Market venue. Inspired by 1940s Brazilian bombshell Carmen Miranda and all-time-favorite cult classics like “Grease” and “Cry Baby,” Bananas! boasts a newly refreshed, seasonal dinner and drink menu and the Can Can Dance Company’s unique brand of playfully bawdy entertainment. Bananas! will run May 4 – June 24, 2018 (press inquire for access) and both group and single tickets are available online now at TheCanCan.com, including special ticket packages for both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
Seattle’s only underground and Parisian-inspired Bohemia woos summer in the Northwest with its captivating, tropically infused evening of burlesque, comedy, song, dance, food, and then some. “One of our most popular shows was called Flamingo – we produced it in 2015,” Chris Pink, Can Can artistic director comments. “Ever since then, we’ve had endless requests to bring it back, so we decided to combine last summer’s hit Ice Cream with Flamingo to create something new because, let’s face it, we could all use an early dose of summer! We think Bananas! has all the right kinds of tiki, beachy goodness – and quite a few bananas.”
Audiences can look forward to a uniquely sourced soundtrack packed with a variety of remixed, remastered, and enhanced vintage tracks brought back to life from the electro swing of Dime Cat, the 1960s sounds of Caterina Valente, to Elvis Presley, Louis Prima, and so much more. The seasonal dinner menu features a variety of new additions including a market fresh Halibut with Lime Coconut Sauce and Pistachio Crusted Lamb with Sweet Potato and Asparagus, and the cocktail menu has also been refreshed as well. Try a Bees Knees gin cocktail or one of the absinthe favorites, Death In The Afternoon. For complete menu details, please visit TheCanCan.com.
ABOUT THE CAST
The Can Can Company of dancers for Bananas! (playing evenings only) features co-producer and principle emcee Jonathan Betchtel aka JonnyBoy (BFA Cornish College; Can Can: Wonderland, French Kiss); Elise Landles aka Fair Elise (BFA Cornish College; Can Can: Ice Cream, Wonderland); Shadou Mintrone aka Shadou (Spectrum Dance Theatre; Can Can: Romeo + Juliet, Wonderland Brunch; This Is Halloween), Lindy Lou Smith aka Lindy Lou (Eugene Ballet Company; Dance Theatre Oregon; Can Can: Magnificent Matinee, This Is Halloween), and Jennifer Jones aka JJ Jones (National Tour of Dirty Dancing; PHILADANCO! The Philadelphia Dance Company).