Saturday, November 18, 2017

"LimeLight" at Minnsky Theatre

Last night, branching out from my usual theater fare, I attended my first burlesque show (not counting the musical Gypsy). Minnsky Theatre is located in nimbus theatre's old space in Northeast Minneapolis, which has been transformed into a more glam version of its former self. I felt a little like I had been transported back in time to the days of Vaudeville, with a variety of age-old entertainment on display. Combining theater, music, dance, acrobatics, burlesque, and circus acts, Minnsky puts on a good show that was thoroughly enjoyed by the large and enthusiastic audience. LimeLight closes tonight, but I encourage you to check out Minnsky sometime for some fun, and a little risque, entertainment.

Joan (Jac Fatale) and Minnie (Tif Dynamite)
(photo courtesy of Minnsky Theatre)
Set in 1939, LimeLight follows two show biz sisters Minnie and Joan (Tif Dynamite and Jac Fatale, who also act as hosts of the evening with pre, post, and mid-show announcements helpful to the uninitiated). Along with the trusty Frankie (Chick A. Dee), the sisters are trying to convince seedy club owner Sticky Ricky (Tony Larkin) to hire them, but he wants more than what just the two of them can do. The first half of the show is them telling grand stories of the acts they'll have, while we see the acts play out. About intermission time they realize they have to deliver on their promises, so they send Frankie to the local bordello to hire some... entertainers. He finds Mama (Kinsey S. Kale) and her girls (a burlesque dancing group called the ExperTeasers). In the second half the show comes together as we see more of the acts rehearsing and performing. It's a simple but clever plot that provides an excuse for all these fabulous acts. The actors employ a broad comic style with a nod and a wink to the audience that makes for a fun framework for the acts.

Brittany Blue on trapeze
(photo courtesy of Minnsky Theatre)
And the acts truly are fabulous, and provide a variety of entertainment that never stops, directed by Minnsky founder Jac Fatale. Belly dancing, pole dancing, striptease, aerial work (including trapeze, hoops, and silks), and even a terrifyingly thrilling fire act! Some of the performers sing to recorded tracks (including some musical theater songs - "Don't Rain on My Parade," "Anything You Can Do," and "When You're Good to Mama") and others lip synch. There are solo pieces, group numbers, sexy stripteases, and impressive athletic f.eats It really does remind one of the variety show of the past; this "Neo Vaudeville" show honors a tradition of entertainment while bringing it into the modern age. The show really leaves nothing to be desired in the way of entertainment - other than a live band. As a former band geek, I'd always rather see live musicians playing onstage, maybe even vamping it up with the cast.

As someone who sees a lot of musical theater, in which the chorus line is typically a bunch of skinny people, my favorite thing about the show is the array of body sizes and shapes on display (and I do mean on display!). These women own their bodies and are proud of them, regardless of size and what society says is beautiful, as it should be. They're all gorgeous, and I envy their confidence. (Note: you can learn to do what they do at Expertease Fitness.)

Thanks to my friend and fellow Twin Cities Theater Blogger Keith (Life in Revue), member of the ExperTeasers, for inviting me to the show and introducing me to this world of burlesque that I didn't even know existed!

the cast of LimeLight (photo courtesy of Minnsky Theatre)