BY TARA McCARTHY
Variety is the spice of life.
And Tang Productions’ Varietease aims to tickle all your senses.
“Expect the unexpected. It’s going to be a fun ride,” says director Brian Fidler of the unapologetically sexy show.
From sultry singers to scantily clad dancers and risqué comedy, Varietease finds the artistry and hilarity in primal passion.
“You’ll laugh, you might be shocked … you’re definitely going to be titillated,” stage manager Anthony Trombetta says with a laugh.
Both he and Fidler joined the production out of temptation to try something new. As Trombetta says, it’s unlike what a Whitehorse audience has experienced before.
“With this show, people just have no idea,” Fidler says. “So that freedom, for me, was really alluring. I’ve really wanted to just try something different and without any sort of expectation from the audience.”
Tang Productions co-creators Fiona Solon and Jessica Thiessen say the show has successfully developed from a vision on paper to an entertaining mix of sex and satire.
“It was a lot more apparent how much of an influence the staples in the art community were going to have on the show,” Thiessen says of the creation process.
“I think when Fiona and I originally thought of this idea we had all kinds of ‘amazing-ness’ happening in our heads; but it took Anthony, Becky [Reynolds, choreographer] and Brian to really tease it out of our brains and turn it into the pop and sparkle that it is on the stage.”
The racy production showcases both original and commissioned acts, including an exotic belly-dancing performance by Jessica Garstin.
Meticulously swaying her hips to the rhythm, Garstin’s arms seem to float and slither through the air, casting a teasing trance. Garstin has trained in the discipline for about eight years and saw Varietease as a chance to expand her horizons.
“It is sort of a way to get in touch with my exhibitionist deep inside,” she says.
“I wasn’t limited. Usually with the dance that I do my costume is a lot more extensive, I’m a lot more covered up. And with this I got to play around with it a little bit more. I’ve sort of been dabbling in a tribe fusion style and so I was able to use that fusion style and add it to this dance to make it more burlesque.”
While dance plays a prominent role in the show, the Vaudeville style is carried out in scripted comedy bits and live accompanied musical numbers – two of which feature Solon’s smoky vocals.
As Solon says, “The live band features some of the finest musicians in the Yukon.”
Lonnie Powell takes the drums, Colleen McCarthy on trombone, Andrea McColeman on keys, Don Bishop takes care of trumpet and bass, while Duncan Sinclair plays the sax.
Sexy puppetry, dirty limericks and a crude chorus line of characters are set to evoke everything from boisterous laughter to blushing. Trombetta jokes that the audience “will see a different side of the people they run into on the street in town.”
And Garstin admits Varietease might be shocking, but undoubtedly enjoyable.
“Bottom line … I think that people are going to walk away from it with a big smile on their face,” she says with a coy smirk of her own.
Varietease takes over the Guild Hall from May 28 to 31. Shows begin at 9 p.m. with an additional midnight show on May 30. Tickets are available at Well-Read Books and the Adult Warehouse. Must be over 19 years of age to attend.
PHOTO: MORGAN WHIBLEY [email protected]