One of Seattle’s newest troupes, Back Bar Beauties Burlesque, is attempting a new approach to building their audience base. Their holiday show is playing three nights in three different bars, and three different neighborhoods. Last night this gypsy troupe of burlesque performers was at Sonya’s Skyy Lounge in Downtown Seattle. I am a big fan of the traveling show format. Some of my best experiences as an actor have been with such shows, so I am excited to see a troupe embracing this in the burlesque community.
I applaud the Beauties’ for this concept and the guts to go this route with their shows. It is hard work and creatively very challenging. I do want to caution them that they are going to need to ramp up their game if the troupe is going to have staying power.
Individually the acts were all pretty solid, aside from feeling a bit cramped (Sonya’s back bar has a tiny little stage), but as a collection the show felt a bit… lackluster. At first glance the show seems pretty varied. Laela Lovechild’s tap dance routine was high energy and spirited, and I was impressed by her choreography. Tin Pan Sally and Olatsa Assin’s musical theatre themed acts added a lovely element of vocal performance to the show; and Tin Pany Sally's Misery themed piece was pretty darn funny. Madisun Avenue’s wind up doll was a beautiful and fun take on the classic Nutcracker’s Columbine, and Donatella Melies engaged the entire audience with her Christmas tree act. All of this was great!
Where the show lost me was that despite the apparent variety, nearly everything ended the same, followed the same arc of the tease, and honestly there wasn’t enough teasing in the show for me. Stripping and baring a beautiful body is all well and good, but I wanted so much more from these lovelies. I wanted more power on the stage, more confidence, more sensuality. I wanted more costume, more pieces to remove. I wanted more spectacle, perhaps a touch of pageantry.
My final critique is that the group act felt superfluous. It neither introduced something new nor topped what was previously seen. As a finale it kind of dragged. As an encore however it would have worked fairly well. My advice to the ladies of BBBB is to switch the order of curtain call and your group act.
All of this boils down to the structuring of the show. A good burlesque show is itself a burlesque act. There should be an arc, a tease, and a solid finish. The audience should want more but feel satisfied at the same time. This takes practices, trial and error and flexibility to switch things up and if this group sticks with it I think they’ll put together some really fun collections.
Back Bar Beauties Burlesque, with Laela Lovechild, Olatsa Assin, Donatella Melies, Madisun Avenue and Tin Pan Sally, has one more performance of their holiday show coming up at Coppergate in Ballard, December 18th. Help support this troupe and give them some love and encouragement. There is potential here!
PS: If you continue to use the personable and lovely Miss Anita Goodman as your hostess, remember that Anita is the ‘eye of a hurricane’, the calm within a storm. Don't be afraid to bump it up a notch to provide a stronger contrast with your emcee!