On Nov 24th 2018, at Halo Venue in Christchurch, New Zealand’s very own Burlesque Collective produced ‘Champagne and Caviar’; a burlesque and variety show packed with nationally recognised talent.
As I entered the venue, the lighting was dimmed and suitably paired with a lounge jazz playlist, creating an instant atmosphere. On stage, there hung a sparkly tinsel backdrop reflecting pink and blue, a pre-rigged Lyra (aerial hoop) was up, and a green bathtub stage left. I felt impatient to discover what was about to unfold, and the unknown purpose of the onstage bathtub mystified me, further intensifying my curiosity.
Madame Zelda was our emcee for the evening. An honest but loveable character with a Russian accent, all the way from Nelson! She was charming, witty, and connected so well with the audience that she left us all feeling as though we knew her personally. Her not-so-traditional psychic readings throughout the show were hilarious, my favourite being a beard reading. She kept us well entertained and segwayed seamlessly from act to act.
Across the night, there were over a dozen acts, performed over three parts. That’s more than you would typically expect at burlesque or cabaret show, but the time was well used, and there wasn’t a moment of boredom to be had!
We saw a selection of styles, including dramatic acts such as the sultry mistress Sapphire Matizze, who captivated the audience in a spectacular fashion. Her costume was well put to use, creating visual drama with her gown. Another dramatic act was that of Fanny McBangers, with a clever representation of her growth as a person; breaking free from the constraints of adolescence and flourishing into the confident and charismatic woman she is now.
There were also classic and themed acts such as that of Heaven z’dor, who brought a little taste of lady luck to the show, with her casino themed act truly making me feel as if I were in Sin City itself; she eminated glamour and shine, complete with tassels spelling JACKPOT! Bonita’s School of Tease astonished the audience with a selection of group acts, and left me in awe; with their slick choreography and flawless synchronisation, they gracefully took charge of the stage, giving me the feeling that I dare not look away. And of course, Bonita Danger Doll herself performed her Dangerzone act. Dressed as a SWAT officer, Bonita never fails to leave jaws on the floor, holding the entire audience captive with a click of her fingers, or in this case, a point of her gun.
In the way of Dance and Circus acts, we saw Shortie Georgia, voted ‘Most creative in Grand Tease NZ’ who has danced her way into the Christchurch scene and become a well known name. Her act highlighted the power of simplicity, reminding me that sometimes less certainly is more. And I can’t help but comment… damn, I wish my butt was as nice as hers! Then there was Piece of Kate performing a Lyra (Aerial hoop) act and showing off her strength, agility and love of heights. A tiger themed outfit, full facepaint and video game music to match, made for a great refresher to mix things up a little.
The show also featured some superb character performances. Nelson based artist Jack Swallows had the audience in the palm of his hand while he opened his valentines gifts to find sweets, chocolates, and a box labelled huge cock…. the contents of which turned out to be a rubber rooster, devastating poor Jack and amplifying his sexy French depression. And last but definitely not least, in fact one of my favourite acts of the evening… F-bomb. A brilliantly devised character act full of hilarity, originality and oh so very kiwiana. Ethel and Doris – two spritely old ladies who came to see the show and brought along some sandwiches, bickies and tea, only to discover they had a bit of burlesque talent of their own, and did a granny strip, complete with tea bag tassels. The storytelling was marvellous and the entire act was wonderfully cheeky and perfectly put together. I definitely look forward to seeing that act again!
During the show, a special mention was put out for a charity elected to be the focus of the evening – Postnatal Depression Canterbury. PND Canterbury work closely with GPs, midwives and other perinatal health services to make sure all mothers and fathers are able to access the help they need. They provide support groups, playgroups and online communities, as well as public education on PND. Notably, they are one of the only services in NZ to provide much needed support for fathers with PND. The audience support for the cause was huge and well deserved, and truly showed the kindness and humanity in the New Zealand Burlesque industry.
And that about wraps up the Champagne and Caviar show for November 2018. Any time you get the chance to see a show put on by The Burlesque Collective, you’ll be kicking yourself if you don’t book a ticket, so keep your eyes peeled for more shows to come!