Heavenly Burlesque

Paramount, Wellington

02/03/2006 - 04/03/2006

Paramount, Wellington

23/02/2006 - 25/02/2006

Paramount, Wellington

16/02/2006 - 18/02/2006

NZ Fringe Festival 2006

Production Details

Directed by Tom Beauchamp
Deborah Pope: circus director
Maria Dabrowska: choreography


Sexy, spectacular … Unrepeatable! Feast on a sumptuous world of Burlesque Circus, Dance and Cabaret, showcasing the most provocative performers in Wellington and their tantalising visions.

MC: Vinyl Burns aka Kim Potter
Circus performance from: Randall Fr (Aus) Pipi Ayesha–Evans, Tom Beauchamp, Jenny Ritchie, Deb Pope
Comedy from: Jo Randerson, Kim Potter, Fergus Aiken
Theatre from: Ake Ake, Helen Moulder, Sara Stangring, Kat Wong
Music for the Fringe Frenzy parties from: Leila Adu, Shakespears’ Bitches, Sambassadors, Chica, Charlie Ash, Luke Buda and the mysterious Tape Man, DJ’s Top Knot, Silverbeats, Chrisana Love, Big Bird…

Producer: Alana Spragg
Dance works from: Maria Dabrowska, Malia Johnston, Moana Nepia, & recent graduates from NZ Dance School through to Real Hot Bitches

Theatre , Burlesque , Circus , Cabaret , Dance-theatre ,

1 hr 30 min + after party

High notes

Review by Ewen Coleman [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 20th Mar 2006

Burlesque came to prominence in America before, during and after the First World War and was a much more risqué version of those other types of variety shows in vogue at the time – Vaudeville and Music Hall. And although Heavenly Burlesque, playing late night for the next two weekends at the Paramount, may not be all that risqué there are plenty of scantily clad performers prancing about to flashing lights and loud music creating the required amount of circus atmosphere for a burlesque show. 

This production is also a vast improvement on previous shows at the Paramount during Fringe 06 and although each evening doesn’t necessarily stick to the hard-to-read programme, there is much to applaud this production of entertaining acts under the overall direction of Tom Beauchamp. 

All the performers bar one are local and appear to come from backgrounds in physical theatre or circus performance. Mixed in with the standard fare of magicians, jugglers and sword swallowers, all of whom perform to expertly arranged lighting and sound, are Incentua Consulting, two upwardly mobile modern day female Executives who, once they strip from their corporate costume, do a very creditable trapeze act.

There is also Samora Squid from Tasmania whose antics with his legs around his head has to be seen to be believed, a contortionist extraordinaire who defies all the laws of medical science.

The final act is the director of the show Tom Beauchamp himself whose performance is probably the most spectacular, flying around the stage and over the audience in death defying manoeuvres up and down a hanging piece of silk.  Then to a hyped up sound and light show all the performers return to the stage for the finale ending this hour long piece of highly enjoyable entertainment on a high note.


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A hit

Review by John Smythe 25th Feb 2006

There’s no doubt Heavenly Burlesque (first reviewed here 19/02) is a hit of the fringe. Last night the Paramount foyer was packed by punters happy to be primed by roving performers – a farmer and his dog, a crop-wielding dominatrix, weird people in exotic garb – if not exactly ‘Shut up!’, as exhorted by one, to listen to set pieces like Dreamscape’s ‘Restaurant’ sketch or songs from blue-haired soprano Barbie and blonde mezzo soprano-with a squeeze-box Ashlyn.

By the time they fill the theatre the punters are ready to rock and the She Devil’s Furnace video (by Ed Davis for Hell’s Pizza) draws whoops and cheers as a naked man cowers in the flames of Hades and the She Devil gives birth to a slice of pizza, mozzarella providing and umbilical connection to the source, then devours her own with orgasmic were-wolverine glee. For those who’ve already seen it, it stands a second viewing.

So, too, I suppose does the comically inept – and magicians’ code-breaking – routine of Vinyl Burns (Kim Potter), although its exact repetition does contradict his claim as MC, repeated at the end of last night’s show, that the programme changes completely each week.

The remaining items are fresh, however, and get off to a great start with solo vignettes from Canada’s Amazing Cromoli Brothers (Lucas Myers), whose season ends at the Bluenote tonight, 8pm. A sort of savage vulnerability is his stock in trade.

Capoeira Pacifica brings a hula flavour to the traditional Brazilian fighting art integrated with music, movement, gymnastics, theatrics and play. While it gets a bit repetitive in performance, it is a fascinating blend of skills (taught at a network of Capoeira Pacifica Mandinga schools around the country).

Model-turned-actress Sara Standring offers a tantalising extract from Please Don’t Feed the Models, developed from her Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School graduation solo piece and soon to open at Bats (8pm 3, 4, 7-11 March). Her agro-boredom catwalk demo is a show-stopper.

A trio from Emencey Dance executes an untitled contemporary piece, introduced as ‘kick-ass dance’, with enviable skill.

Following the struggle they had to be heard in the foyer, Dreamscape – Marcus Fernando and Tina Hoffman from the UK, currently playing their Full of Sound and Fury show in the same venue, 7.30 until 4 March (reviewed 22/2) – make it hard for themselves to be seen by playing their ‘Existential Theoretical Relativity’ sketch half way up the auditorium. It’s darkly funny, though.

Aerialists, Jenny Ritchie and Inge Gnatt, perform aesthetic wonders on a double length of red fabric looped in a sling at the top. Olivia Bryant uses a highly expressive mime-cum-dance mode to depict a repressed woman seeking sexual liberation.

The attempts of blue-haired Barbie to give us a spot of Carmen are subverted by blonde mezzo Ashlyn’s warm-up trills. With tonsils drawn for an operatic cat fight, their segue into a beautifully harmonised rendition of ‘Sous le dome epais’ from Lakmé by Delibe (popularised by a TV commercial for … something), generates a genuine thrill through the auditorium.

And so to the Can-Can finale, provoking the punters to effusive applause before they flock back into the foyer for further libations and DJ-(Remedy & Myrkal)-fuelled revels.


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Hyperbolic frolic

Review by John Smythe 19th Feb 2006

Talk about extravaganza! Not so much the show as the hyperbolic publicity for Heavenly Burlesque (see www.paramount.co.nz). It promises a "performance world [that] explodes with wild, fruity, ideas, dreams and images that collide and captivate." By "reinvestigating" burlesque the show will explore and play with "ideas of ‘body politics’ – sex, gender, courtship, media imagery, and social/cultural expectations."

"Once through the front doors the journey into elaborate worlds of performance begins," the rave continues. "Firstly in the Bar / café area the audience will encounter installations, music and theatrical antics, then the cabaret show starts as doors open to the main stage which will host an incredible line up of amazing acts incorporating dance, circus, comedy, music and contributions from the best of the fringe. Short sharp acts no longer than 10 minutes means the show is a thrilling roller coaster ride that guarantees something for everyone! When the main stage show ends the party is just beginning in the bar with bands and DJ’s till late."

Wow. Bring it on!

But how do I review it when the show changes somewhat every night and has a total make-over each weekend? (Warning: the publicity shot of a naked woman lying on red fabric, replicating a famous Marilyn Monroe calendar pose, is not a literal part of the show. It’s honest, though, because she lies.) All I can observe is whether it fulfilled its promise the Saturday night I went.

First, while a festive air prevails in the foyer, I have to say that people wandering around in costume but failing to engage with the punters is not what I’d call "theatrical antics". When I was overheard commenting on this, however, a showgirl was summoned to rectify the situation. She did this by slapping me around in a demonstration of stage violence. Fair enough.

Finally, about twenty minutes after the advertised starting time, the Chantillian Lace dancers offered their popular Baguette performance on a small band rostrum visible to about a third of those assembled. Three other pre-show events were listed in the programme but I didn’t notice them.

The festive air increased in the main auditorium. The She Devil’s Furnace, a video by Ed David for the sponsor, Hell Pizza, pushes the boundaries of good taste way beyond what you’ll see TV. Unfortunately for me and those around me, the MC – one Vinyl Burns – obscured our view of the screen by posing on the cross-wise balustrade in early anticipation of his follow spot.

Burn’s consciously crappy magic act had its moments and he brought show-biz buzz to his MC role, although why he – and many other performers – chose to put of fake American accents is beyond me. Here’s a revolutionary thought: why not "reinvestigate" burlesque in a Kiwi way?

With a plethora of performers displaying their fairly basic circus skills within various dramatic-cum-comic contexts, the extraordinary talents of Tasmanian contortionist Samora Squid, born with acute hyper-mobility, provided the high point. His un-amplified chat also proved, by the way, that there is nothing wrong with the Paramount’s acoustics for well-trained voices.

Like the Fringe itself, Heavenly Burlesque is a hit-or-miss affair played out within a genuinely festive atmosphere at an excellent venue that doubles as the Fringe club. If you fancy it after another show that finishes at 9.30 or so, don’t be put off by the misleadingly advertised starting time.


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