IBJOpinion

LOU'S VIEWS: Bottoms Up Burlesque offers a strip down memory lane

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Lou Harry

This week, peeling away assumptions at a burlesque show, a late-night songfest, and another chance to greet Ms. Levi.

____________

There are fundamental differences between what went on at Bottoms Up Burlesque’s “What Would the Neighbors Think?” and what goes on at your average strip club. At least, I’m assuming there are. Because, well, er …

Let’s start again.

The entertainment value of watching clothes being removed is …

No? OK, how about: By the time the pasties were revealed …

Hmmm. How about if we just state the facts first?

On March 27, a local group working under the title Bottoms Up Burlesque staged a show called “What Would the Neighbors Think?” at CTI Theatre on Keystone Avenue. With just about every act (except for the cross-dressing magician and the improvisational comedy duo), the quantity of clothes worn by the performers diminished as the number went on, stopping just short of the law.

There was hooting and there was hollering from the near-capacity crowd, with the women in the audience making as much noise as the men. No dollar bills were tucked nor private dances given.
 

A&E main Old-school burlesque—with contemporary twists— highlighted “What Would the Neighbors Think?” (Photo Courtesy Michael S. Drury)

On stage, for the most part, weren’t women who might attract a Playboy photographer. That’s not to say they weren’t lovely, but with nary a sign of enhancement on any of them (unless you consider tattoos enhancement), they ranged in shape and size, with the common denominator being confidence and playfulness.

Well aware of the silliness of what they were doing, these women were artful in their embrace of the “tease” so often lost in striptease. Mistress Calluna, for instance, shed her inflated coverings one balloon at a time by bursting them in sync with the song “Lollipop.” Event organizer Katie Angel took Star Wars geekery to a hilarious extreme by offering a disrobing Darth Vader. And Dance Kaleidoscope’s Jill Godwin led a blissfully goofy group number to “Penguins Lament.” While many were local, the headliner was Chicago-based Michelle L’amour, whose act may have been more polished, but was no more entertaining than most of the others.

The stage was dominated by the ladies, but six-packed Jett Adore also performed, most memorably as an erotic Zorro, cutting away his own clothes with his trusty sword. Having such an idealized guy in the show rather than someone out of “The Full Monty” may have sent a mixed message about body acceptance, but he was applauded just as enthusiastically as the rest.

“What Would the Neighbors Think?” could have used more variety in the second act—just about every performer came back for another number. But the overall show, enhanced by quality lighting and sound and the good will generated by jovial hosts Jeff Angel and Susan Galey, was a guilt-free treat. (I’d say it was a trip down mammary lane if the crowd wasn’t too young to remember Vaudeville.)

If Bottoms Up can maintain the quality control exemplified in this production, don’t be surprised if old-school burlesque becomes the next big form of alternative entertainment here. Think roller derby without the risk of bruising.
____________

There were only two disappointments in “That’s Brent-ertainment,” the late-night open mic hosted by the Cabaret at the Columbia Club on March 27. One is that the event had to end at midnight (it actually stretched to about 12:20 thanks to a lengthy “Tiny Dancer” sing-along led by host Brent Marty). By that time, the momentum was just building and many of the talented folks in the room had yet to take the stage.

The other disappointment was learning that the next installment isn’t scheduled until August. That’s way too long to wait.

As it stood, though, we heard a rousing “If I Were a Rich Man,” a rich “Someone Else’s Story” (from the musical “Chess”), some seriously solid Sondheim from Marty and special guest Su Ours, a lovely “Misty,” and more.

(Full disclosure: I was invited to offer some Broadway trivia from the stage and, so, in a small sense, was a part of the show.)
____________

With its thick-as-gauze characters, heart-on-sleeve tunes, and emphasis on big-hatted costumes, “Hello, Dolly!” is the picture of the un-hip musical. It’s about love, pure and very, very simple, a sweet confection that somehow disarms just about anyone willing to give it half a chance.

But confections should be savored, not gulped down. And Beef & Boards’ production (running through May 2) often seems to confuse frenzy with energy.

That’s not to say Herman’s infectious songs and some solid performances don’t make this a fun evening. The women are fine with nearly all roles better sung than acted. In the force-of-nature lead, Chicago actress Iris Lieberman delivers a strong “Before the Parade Passes By” but, as of my visit, hadn’t yet found a convincing through-line for Dolly Levi.

The men fare better, with David Schmittou effectively shaking off his last B&B performance as the villain in “The Foreigner” to become a charmingly enthusiastic Cornelius Hackl; Alex Yacovelli creating a youthful, endearing Barnaby Tucker; and Mark Goetzinger wearing curmudgeonly Horace Vandergelder like a favorite suit.•

__________

This column appears weekly. Send information on upcoming arts and entertainment events to lharry@ibj.com.

ADVERTISEMENT

  • Right on schedule...
    Well, the burlesque revival came and went years ago in most other large cities (ditto with roller derby), so Indy might finally be ready for it.

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
thisissue1-092914.jpg 092914

Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Cramer agrees...says don't buy it and sell it if you own it! Their "pay to play" cost is this issue. As long as they charge customers, they never will attain the critical mass needed to be a successful on company...Jim Cramer quote.

  2. My responses to some of the comments would include the following: 1. Our offer which included the forgiveness of debt (this is an immediate forgiveness and is not "spread over many years")represents debt that due to a reduction of interest rates in the economy arguably represents consideration together with the cash component of our offer that exceeds the $2.1 million apparently offered by another party. 2. The previous $2.1 million cash offer that was turned down by the CRC would have netted the CRC substantially less than $2.1 million. As a result even in hindsight the CRC was wise in turning down that offer. 3. With regard to "concerned Carmelite's" discussion of the previous financing Pedcor gave up $16.5 million in City debt in addition to the conveyance of the garage (appraised at $13 million)in exchange for the $22.5 million cash and debt obligations. The local media never discussed the $16.5 million in debt that we gave up which would show that we gave $29.5 million in value for the $23.5 million. 4.Pedcor would have been much happier if Brian was still operating his Deli and only made this offer as we believe that we can redevelop the building into something that will be better for the City and City Center where both Pedcor the citizens of Carmel have a large investment. Bruce Cordingley, President, Pedcor

  3. I've been looking for news on Corner Bakery, too, but there doesn't seem to be any info out there. I prefer them over Panera and Paradise so can't wait to see where they'll be!

  4. WGN actually is two channels: 1. WGN Chicago, seen only in Chicago (and parts of Canada) - this station is one of the flagship CW affiliates. 2. WGN America - a nationwide cable channel that doesn't carry any CW programming, and doesn't have local affiliates. (In addition, as WGN is owned by Tribune, just like WTTV, WTTK, and WXIN, I can't imagine they would do anything to help WISH.) In Indianapolis, CW programming is already seen on WTTV 4 and WTTK 29, and when CBS takes over those stations' main channels, the CW will move to a sub channel, such as 4.2 or 4.3 and 29.2 or 29.3. TBS is only a cable channel these days and does not affiliate with local stations. WISH could move the MyNetwork affiliation from WNDY 23 to WISH 8, but I am beginning to think they may prefer to put together their own lineup of syndicated programming instead. While much of it would be "reruns" from broadcast or cable, that's pretty much what the MyNetwork does these days anyway. So since WISH has the choice, they may want to customize their lineup by choosing programs that they feel will garner better ratings in this market.

  5. The Pedcor debt is from the CRC paying ~$23M for the Pedcor's parking garage at City Center that is apprased at $13M. Why did we pay over the top money for a private businesses parking? What did we get out of it? Pedcor got free parking for their apartment and business tenants. Pedcor now gets another building for free that taxpayers have ~$3M tied up in. This is NOT a win win for taxpayers. It is just a win for Pedcor who contributes heavily to the Friends of Jim Brainard. The campaign reports are on the Hamilton County website. http://www2.hamiltoncounty.in.gov/publicdocs/Campaign%20Finance%20Images/defaultfiles.asp?ARG1=Campaign Finance Images&ARG2=/Brainard, Jim

ADVERTISEMENT