A Touch of Crass
The mere mention of a musical is often met with a groan; mentioning a burlesque musical- a groan followed by either a snicker or a squeal, depending on who you’re asking. Rent was enough to scare most off the plight of the starving artist set to music. Fortunately for writers The Wet Spots (John Woods and Cass King), Seattle has an open mind coupled with a notoriously rabid preoccupation with burlesque. SHINE: A Burlesque Musical features a host of local luminaries as the chorus and dancing ensemble, as well as choreography developed by Inga Ingénue and assistant choreographer Ruby Mimosa. Billed as an “adult-oriented show which contains nudity and themes of healthy sexuality”, SHINE’s imaginative writers and director Roger Benington make it permissible to see a musical again, even if you’re “not a musical type”.
For starters, the cast is engaging- no small feat considering the singing is pitted against relatively low volume, slightly muddled canned instrumentation. The cheeky references and sexual content dip into the same gene pool as Cabaret– it felt like a young Liza might pop up and duet with Cass King (Shine Mionne). The story of a failing theatre and its tattered diamonds-in-the-rough cast was brought to life by Canadian actress Gemma Isaac (Grace) – who nailed tassel twirling as well as the very amusing role of a naïve gender studies student looking for a feminist epiphany via burlesque. Bodacious real-life blues belter Adraboo Green played bad-girl seductress Lulu Von Doozy, whose vocals sound best off the chain and at top volume. Anna Allen- aka Ernie and Elsa Von Schmaltz- led the chorus as Violet; both Allen and dancer Polly Wood demonstrated some killer comic timing and were ultra-comfortable in their roles, their stage backgrounds very apparent. Roxie Moxie (Feral) played her “hissing only” role like the sexy, post-apocalyptic stage monkey her Stripped Screw fans know and love.
Although I get a little antsy during musicals, songs like “The Nasty” (by Mark Growden), “Rocky Horror”, “Perversions of Yesteryear”, and “Stars” were clever, a little bit crass, and yes, catchy. When SHINE returns someday with a live band, things will really get interesting. For the moment, I’m actually kicking around the idea of seeing this *gasp* burlesque musical again.
SHINE: A Burlesque Musical runs through July 18 at Theatre Off Jackson.