On Sunday night, I went and saw A Winter's Tail, the holiday burlesque show put on by Les Coquettes, a local burlesque troupe. Burlesque has really taken off in the city in the past few years, led by this group and Skin Tight Outta Sight. I had been meaning to see them for a while, but what tipped the balance for me was that one of their special guests were the Rumoli Bros, who I'm a huge fan of. (I still mourn that they no longer host the Fringe late-night show.)
Someone described the two groups at intermission this way: "These guys are very professional. Skin Tight is more let's just try something and see what happens." I know that one of the driving force behind Les Coquettes, the woman who go by the name Lilli Bubalotovitch, is an professional actor and from what I saw on stage, I'd guess most of the troupe are either professional dancers, singers, acrobats or actors.
The show followed a variety format although most of the numbers were burlesque, or at least designed to be naughty. Besides the troupe, there were a couple of "man props" and many special guests. The show moved at a fairly good pace, the only pacing problems being sometimes a too-long setup between acts. It had a vaudevillian feel to it, incorporating almost every type of performance - the finale of the first act was an arialist, the last thing I expected to see in a bar.
The things that made the greatest impression on me (besides anything to do with the Rumoli Bros) was the carol that opened the show, the classic 30s fan dance of special guest Mina La Fleur (who I'm sure I've seen before), the twisted nativity set to the song Halos and Whores, the routines from two members of the Boylesque T.O. troupe (a new all-male burlesque troupe), a bondage Rudolph routine, Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend from guest Sonya Jezebel Côté, and a very interesting take on the sugar plum fairy dance.
As for the Rumolis, I hadn't had a chance to see them for a while and I was happy to see that their routine still felt fresh. They added in a new bit of wordplay that went on much longer than these things usually do, yet they kept it up. The people sitting behind me were blown away. Hopefully the boys will be doing more appearances in the near future.
Their next show is on February 22nd and I'd highly recommend checking it out if you're in the Toronto area. The show sold out tonight and the buzz around the room was so great that I'm guessing that soon they're going to need a bigger venue. They do sell advance tickets but you'll need to be either on their mailing list (which you can access from their website) or join their facebook group.
It's really nice to see this art form returning to prominence and being embraced so readily. I have to admit, watching them having so much fun made me want to try it myself. Just don't expect to see me on a burlesque stage anytime soon.