Buskers Burlesque: USA INVASION

The Press Big Top – Busker Park, Christchurch

14/01/2016 - 23/01/2016


Production Details

When you have had the majority of the top ten burlesque acts in the world you can only do one thing, get the best of the best!

Get those boas and sequins ready, for this year we are going old school, traditional, sexy, sassy and wild with BUSKERS BURLESQUE: USA INVASION

Contains: Nudity, Adult Themes, Strobe Lighting, Smoke and Pyro.

The Press Big Top, Busker Park
14 – 23 February 2016

Theatre , Burlesque ,

Simmering, sizzling, charming, awe-inducing, witty …

Review by Naomi van den Broek 17th Jan 2016

Being a live Burlesque virgin, I am delighted to hear the ushers calling “Sold Out” at the doors of The Press Big Top as we make our way inside for Buskers Burlesque. And it’s a varied audience too.

Within the immediate vicinity of our seats is a party of middle aged men cat-calling the performers and making friends with two young women in their early 20s who appear to be making a very big night of it. There’s a hen’s party complete with costumes and props; a groups of elegant ladies in the twilight years of their lives dressed in fully sequined gowns and fascinators; a very friendly and chatty couple in their 30s with whom I have quite a meaningful discussion about fun fur.

These people are here to have a good time! And we none of us leave disappointed.

The mistress of ceremonies for the evening is Ben DeLaCreme. She immediately has the audience in the palm of her hands, promising an evening of excitement and talent, giving helpful tips about what to do if wayward costumes pieces should make it into your lap – “Give it a good whiff and then throw it back. It’s not a souvenir!” – and generally whipping the audience into a suitable frenzy.

The first performer of the evening is the beautiful and sensual Pearl Noir. Having discovered the movie Gypsy with Natalie Wood one Sunday afternoon in my teens, I feel prepared for a good dose of strip tease. And although we never saw Gypsy’s nipple tassels in that film, the art of the tease still remains more about titivation and less about the actual, well you know, nudity.

Noir reminds me a lot of Eartha Kitt as Catwoman in the early Batman TV series with her feline elegance, the flinty twinkle in her eye, and her simmering intensity. She is a big hit with the crowd and we all know that a line in the sand has been drawn for the intention of tonight’s performance.

She is followed by Mister Gorgeous who somewhat defies description in that it’s hard to believe all the adjectives one could use to describe him could go together in a sentence, but here goes: Mister Gorgeous is an extremely tall, clean cut, preppy, bespectacled and be-sequinned, twinkly eyed, clumsy, graceful, free of body hair, polished, self-deprecating, comedic, boyish, leggy, acrobatic, strip tease artiste.

Mister Gorgeous is just the type of performer that New Zealand audiences love, in that his skill, strength and artistry is hidden behind a bemused expression of “Oh shucks I hope this works out” as he performs extraordinary feats of acrobatic genius. Not least of which is holding a chair in his teeth while managing to strip off his pants! He is a charming and delightful performer and the audience adores him.

The appealing Trixie Little takes the stage in a costume that looks like Strictly Ballroom met Sesame Street in a dark alley way and no one is quite sure who the winner was. She is a firecracker of cirque-style strength, sass and sex and there are very few audience members, men or women, who are not completely won over by her sizzling routine.

Her duet with Mister Gorgeous later in the show is full of both awe inducing acrobatics and top drawer comedy. The sight of man performing rhythmic gymnastics in a tasselled cod-piece is a bell it will be impossible to un-ring. 

Nate Cooper dishes up excellent red-neck comedic relief in between performers, offering a nice wink to festival sponsors SCIRT and employing the talents of a good-natured audience member with hilarious results. His bumbling and slack-jawed performance persona belies his skill, polish and impeccable comic timing.

Ben DeLaCreme gets her moment to show us her non-verbal skills which are legion. She is an exceptionally musical performer, interpreting every inflection in the Big Band track she has choreographed. She is a comedic goddess and has us all in stitches with the witty and farcical spoof of her art form. It’s one of those moments where you know that a performer has earned the right to shape, manipulate and break all of the rules of their craft and it’s just so much fun to share it with her. 

My favourite performer of the night is Ray Gun. There is something haunting, mysterious and utterly moving about his performances. He is a graceful, magnetic, dark and lyrical performer. And yet the whole is so much more than the sum of these parts. His performance is intriguing and captivating, and stays with me long after he leaves the stage.

My only beef for the evening was the over-zealous reprimand my companion received from a festival staff member for trying to take a photo of the performance. When there is no pre-show announcement regarding photos or the prohibition thereof, the ‘school teacher’ level telling off that was issued was a bit of a buzz kill. (Also given the Festival themselves used audience members’ social media photos from the performance the night before to promote the show on their own Facebook page, it did seem a bit like having a bob each way.)

The crowd leave the performers in no doubt of their appreciation in the raucous curtain call. My burlesque cherry is popped by experienced and gentle professionals and I would have no hesitation recommending this show to anyone who enjoys a good night out. Just don’t forget to bring some cash to show your appreciation at the end. 


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