Ivy Cabaret has presented us with A Night At The Opera – a burlesque tribute to Queen. It is a previously award-winning show that has garnered five star reviews and a loving fanbase.
I haven’t left a Fringe show bored before tonight.
The opening number was weak. They began with We Will Rock You and Bohemian Rhapsody, and made these songs look, well, weak. The choreography was there but executed without precision, and the costumes were flashy, and that was about all there was going for it. I didn’t see a fire in the dancers until their solo numbers. Each dancer had two numbers excluding the opener, and they were very high quality… excluding the opener.
The performers were collectively very good. The dancing was great, they had all the regular burlesque tricks with the tassles and the phallic objects and the butt slapping and all the good stuff. Each is clearly very good at what they do. The only overall stumble for our main performers was that they didn’t appear to know whether or not to lip sync and it caused a lot of awkward in between bits and odd facial expressions.
Delza Skye – ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Delza Skye and her famously cute butt began appropriately with Fat Bottomed Girls. She put nipple tassles on her butt. The whole thing wasn’t particularly memorable to me but I know I enjoyed it. Especially the butt tassles revelation, that I remember very well and hope to not forget.
I Want To Break Free, her second number, kicked it up a few notches and had a concept that I can recall. Delza – using a vacuum as a phallic prop and dressed in full french maid attire – danced for us like nobody’s watching with a Freddy Mercury moustache stuck on the whole time. It is a tiny addition that just brought so many more layers to the number. All the housekeeping jokes landed and it was really just delightful to watch.
Demi Diva – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Madame Demi Diva was perhaps the most expressive of the bunch. If her character was feeling an emotion you knew which one it was. If she was crying, her face was in agony. If she was happy, her smile was grinning to her ears. If she was warming up for some bicycle riding, every single muscle in her face was clenched and tensed. It was impressive! Madame Demi did perform Bicycle Race in a biker’s spandex and a racing helmet to top it off. The striptease out of this was really something fun. The ending where she brought an actual tricycle to ride on stage was unforgettable.
We then moved onto a song with an entirely different energy – Somebody To Love. Even though she was switching from a very bright and positive song to one of a desperate person begging for love, Demi found a way to consistently give 100%. She found her emotional hills and valleys, really raised the hills while riding those valleys all the way down. The costume was gorgeous and pure, which made the things underneath all the more sexy. Madame Demi Diva is a star!
Ivy Temptress – ⭐⭐⭐
Ivy Temptress is the ringleader of Ivy Cabaret. She was incredibly strong with movement and knows how her body works like nobody else, but she lacked some of the creativity seen in the performances by her colleagues. She was introduced with Radio Gaga and chose to theme it around an 80’s workout. The cardio was a bold choice for the boiling hot evening, but the idea itself is a common one. Although it was undoubtedly executed very well, her technique was so incredible to watch, it just didn’t really bring anything new.
Another One Bites The Dust, her second solo, was much more interesting thematically. She looked unrecognisable as she entered in a full cloak with a long reaper’s scythe. Removing the hood we are greeted with a beautiful face and a skeleton jaw painted onto it. I adore a well-used prop and the scythe was great. That said, I don’t remember a whole lot of the choreo and I only saw it yesterday at the time of writing. I don’t think it was bad by any means, just overshone by other performers.
Calypso D’lite – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
When it comes down to it, Calypso D’Lite was very much my favourite. Showcasing drama and dripping in luxury with Who Wants To Live Forever, Calypso came onstage as a white angel with a Isis Wings. Her movements flowed with flourishes that reminded me of a butterfly elegantly breathing with it’s wings. She transitioned seamlessly into a red devil with those spellbinding fans that have flowing fabric attached. She really transported us from a night in heaven to the depths of a fiery hell, and I lived for it.
Not only did she bring the dramatics, she also brought the funniest of tonight’s comedic feats to close the show with Don’t Stop Me Now. It was a huge transformation from her previous number as she donned a whole lot of body hair and a tank top with a VB in hand. I didn’t expect this at all, there was no warning. The climax where we reveal the massive amounts of bush either side of Calypso’s tiny underwear was very satisfying and had me hollering.
So why am I giving such a low rating to the overall show when I have so much praise to give the performers? Here’s where things get a bit harsh.
Perhaps the least enjoyable part of the show was our host, Camden Champagne, who was the most lethargic. Her voice was a lullaby. Even when she did move an arm or leg there was no energy. The audience was upsettingly quiet and clearly didn’t know that it is respectful to scream during a cabaret. I understand that it’s hard to perform for that kind of crowd – but whenever a burlesque dancer had us cheering from a saucy number, the host’s drawl leeches all our excitement back away. I came to watch on closing night, so maybe she was tired. Maybe she was trying to be a sexy, demure MC – but whatever she was doing it was not working. The script was great, the lines were all there, the delivery just wasn’t. She looked stunning but she didn’t have the charisma to back it up tonight. I hope that this was an off night and trust that Camden is normally more entertaining than what was presented this time. Truly, the stage kittens had more stage presence.
And speaking of the stage kittens, they were actually quite cute and theatrical. Miss Vintage Orchid and Minxy Milva did a very good job of not only being efficient in cleanup, but adding a little camp along the way. Although they were only on stage for minutes, they had some memorable silent improv bits as they worked. I liked them.
In terms of the tech, I don’t know who I’m supposed to blame. Whoever it was, did they actually rehearse with the songs and the girls? The lights were a beat off more often than not, in fact the integral light cue where a dancer comes downstage into the audience for the first time didn’t actually come on until after the girl was making her way back onstage. If the people in the tech box aren’t watching the show, then the audience won’t be giving their full attention either. It felt like we were in the first tech rehearsal. It wasn’t just the lighting either – the music was quiet which I suppose I could understand if it was supposed to be a sing along. However it is inexcusable to have a quiet mic for the MC, which was another circumstance not in Ms. Champagne’s favour. I was only in the fourth row, directly in front of a speaker, and I couldn’t even hear some of her lines. On that note, surely a venue as established as Connections is capable of tiering seating. Most of the floorwork was obscured by either speakers or the heads of other audience members. Sure, I should’ve taken the initiative to get a front row seat, but I also can’t help but feel awful for the people sitting in the back row that were on the same level as me, eleven rows behind me.
One last gripe. Considering we only used somewhere between 10 and 12 Queen songs throughout the show, I’m also confused as to why no Queen was playing prior to the performance as seats were taken, and after the performance as everyone was leaving. It’s such a simple way to hype a crowd a little and they really made a mistake by playing filler beats for the bookends of a musical rock cabaret. Many mistakes were made overall to be entirely honest.
I really wanted to like this show, but in the end this was a great idea thrown into a room of bad circumstances that made it very difficult to execute well. This show needs a longer tech week and a master of ceremonies that can hype up a crowd. Maybe then the dancers, who are brilliant and experienced, will receive the resounding applause they so genuinely deserved.
Until next time,
The Velvet Card Critic