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A CurtainUp Review
La Soiree
Walking the tightrope between the stage proper and the variety show, the cabaret defined an independent territory for itself. A flexible shifted focus with the times, without ever on the whole losing its rebellious wit or dissident, innovative nature.
— Lisa Appignanesi, author of The Cabaret.
La Soiree
Miss Behave
(Photo credit: PEROU)
All the world's a stage and at the Union Square Theatre where La Soiree, proves it can be a sexy, screwy, spell-binding stage of circus, cabaret, and burlesque. No, this is not the sleek sophistication of Cirque de Soleil, but Freddy Mercury meets Meow Meow in a smorgasbord of flash, trash and knockabout hilarity.

Welcome to some rousing circus music, drinks from the bar that is busy throughout the show and ushers in white shirts, black suspenders and bowler hats who urge you to race to the best seat you can find. An Emcee gives the usual turn-off-your-cell-phone message before encouraging you to buy drinks whenever you want and to applaud like crazy.

A Euro-Kabarett spirit begins with Meow Meow in red sequins, slinking down the aisle with her purr-fect Eartha Kitt warning, "There Is No Cure for L'Amour." She wanders around the audience, stopping to sample wine and beer and turning popcorn boxes upside down. She'll be back.

More impressive are the gymnasts. The English Gents (Denis Lock and Hamish McCann), two hunks in pinstriped suits, position themselves into astounding formations, balancing with strength and elegance while reading The Financial Times, before stripping down to skimpy Union Jack briefs. The remarkable McCann returns with a Gene Kelly-strut down the aisle to "Singing in the Rain." Reaching a lamppost, he flips up to execute an acrobatically complex pole dance. On mid-lampost, his body is straight out horizontally as he walks through the air until he is stretched tightly against the pole.

A full bathtub carries Stephen "Bath Boy" Williams in clinging wet jeans. He lifts, twirls and twists over the bathtub into gyrations using drapes hanging from the rafters while shooting long spiraling of bathwater from his mouth. It is a crowd-wetter for those in the front rows, although they are given plastic sheets for protection. Since Bath Boy ends Act I, there is some furious mopping up during the 15 minute intermission.

Miss Behave, with the show since its beginning in 2004, is a sword-swallower. Actually, she is a gasp-provoking swallower of scissors, a long-stemmed rose, and to a recording of Sinatra singing, "My Way," she downs a lighted cigar and the leg of a cocktail table. Easier to swallow is Mooky Cornish, a likeable Canadian wackadoo. Making her " acting debut," on this evening, she invited a young New Jersey man from the audience to play second banana. He joined her tongue-in-cheek earnestness with determination and good humor and together, they lip-synched "Maria" from West Side Story. Even Mooky seemed impressed and during intermission she came out and posed for photos with the young man and his girlfriend.

While Jess Love, looking like a Rose Bowl parade majorette, brings a sly cheekiness to her multiple hoop-twirling, Ursula Martinez, with merely a wink and a red hanky, begins a ballsy striptease. How far will she go? Pretty far. She later, very effectively, demonstrates how to teach Spanish via anatomy.

Legendary in La Soiree, is campy madman, Mario, Queen of the Circus, who proves that the hit song for Queen, "Another One Bites the Dust," is really about juggling. He pulls a young woman, looking frozen with fear, onstage to ride the unicycle for the first time. Oh yes, and on his shoulders. Bringing this movable feast to an end, Mario rallies everyone to stand and honor his idol, Freddie Mercury, singing, "We Are the Champions" as the delighted audience passes Mario overhead, hand to hand, through the theater.

Previously known as La Clique, the show appeared around the world and in New York as Absinthe: Les Artistes de La Clique, in 2006. With Lance Horne on piano, the quirky cast delivers two hours of laughs, sexy fun and jaw-dropping thrills. One note: Pushing the envelope to possibly disreputable limits suggests that La Soiree, is not really your Barnum and Bailey circus and not appropriate for the young folks.

La Soiree
Presented by Brett Haylock, Mark Rubinstein, and Mick Perrin

Piano Accompaniment: Lance Horne
Running Time: Two hours. One intermission.
Union Square Theatre 100 East 17th Street
Tues-Thurs. at 8pm; Fri., Sat. at 7pm and 10pm. Sun at 5pm.
From 10/29/13. Opens: 11/7/13. Closes:5/13/14
Review by Elizabeth Ahlfors based on performance 11/6/13
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