BY TARA McCARTHY
Being part of a community production means commitment.
And when I signed up to be a part of the revival of Varietease – a risqué Burlesque show that shook Whitehorse this past May – I knew I was in for tiresome rehearsals … and a completely unique experience.
The sex, the satire and the sass are all back for a remount. And while about half of the coarse crew is returning to the stage, a healthy dose of newcomers (like yours truly) are joining in.
A raven-haired beauty takes the pseudo stage at rehearsal, sauntering back and forth in a gold back-laced corset, while belting out a sultry blues tune. And while she appears at home slithering down the microphone stand with her sexy stature, performer Shauna Jones says she’s never done anything like this before.
Jones, who just moved to the Yukon in January, takes the stage in a few of the acts, including a performance of Lavern Baker’s Slow Rollin’ Mama.
“I thought it was an old blues song, but it turns out it’s a song that was written as a faux blues song for an alternate Dick Tracy soundtrack, of all things,” she says with a laugh.
“But it’s really fun, it’s really sexy and I heard it first when I was about 13 on this tape I bought at a flea market. So I guess it’s been cooking for decades.”
Besides adding Jones to the mix, producer, co-creator and performer Fiona Solon says the remount is an exciting resurrection of the show, while still retaining its saucy dances, side-splitting satire and Vaudeville style.
“Some of the acts are the same, but done by different people that look different and feel different and are wearing different clothing,” Solon says.
“You could do the same dance 17 times, but with 17 different groups of people it’s going to look completely different and feel completely different every time.”
Solon admits the show could not go on without the return of director Brian Fidler. And Fidler says though working with a large cast can be a bit arduous, there’s an infectious energy.
“Everyone’s really keen and everyone’s really into it. It’s got a similar kind of spirit, but maybe because we know that it all works this time … we kind of go further, go deeper,” he says, sending him and Solon into a chorus of laughter.
“If we could have remounted the same show, I think we probably would have, but then it kind of just started to morph and change and we thought we’d just plug in a couple of extra acts. But then the whole thing just starts to kind of shift.”
Making the decision to revive the show was an easy one according to many of the cast and crew. And rehearsals filled with hilarity and releasing your inner sexpot reveals why.
Some potential audience members might be bashful about the mature content, but Jones says it’s not what you think.
“There’s a lot about this that’s playful and powerful at the same time. So I really think it’s about ownership, choice and personal sexuality. There isn’t really anything degrading about it.”
More quirky puppets, more dominatrix lessons from Roslyn Woodcock and Jones’ voice are what Fidler and Solon say stack up to take the cabaret to a whole new level.
“We’ve kept the same format, we have the same band, we have the same stage, the audience is going to be seated the same way, but everything else will be different,” Solon explains.
“It’s like we’re a travelling band of misfits that rolled through town and now we’re back and we know what you want.”
Varietease runs Nov. 25 to 28 and Dec. 2 to 6 at the Guild Hall, including three midnight shows. Tickets are $25 and are available at Well-Read Books.
PHOTO: RICK MASSIE [email protected]