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Varietease returns with a devilish twist

Voluptuous vixens and luscious lads are bound to get your heart rate pumping this week during the fifth edition of Varietease, a burlesque cabaret.

Voluptuous vixens and luscious lads are bound to get your heart rate pumping this week during the fifth edition of Varietease, a burlesque cabaret.

The biennial variety show promises to feature a wide range of eye candy for its audiences.

This year’s production, called Hotter than Hell, is a lot more than lingerie, girdles and stockings.

Sure, the scantily clad women singing and dancing in a sexually suggestive fashion will attract its fair share of attention.

But there are also Vaudeville-style sketches, live music, improvisation and a lot of surprises.

Host Helen Brimstone, played by Claire Ness, welcomes the recently deceased audience to Hell, and offers them a visual feast to prove the underworld isn’t all that bad.

Expect performers - nine women and three men - to pop out of every nook and cranny within the Guild Hall Theatre.

Each character has a backstory, a reason for being in Hell, that is explored in an improvised interview during the show.

It’s a night of partial nudity, adult language and a showcase of some of the best local talent.

Needless to say, it’s a show that doesn’t cater to children, hence the 19 and over age restriction.

Producer-performer Fiona Solon, who has been involved with Varietease since its inception in 2008, calls it an “onslaught of entertainment.”

“In this show the MC is always talking to the audience and we don’t pretend they’re not there,” she said.

“There’s no fourth wall. The band is playing between performances.

“There always something happening.”

Numbers speak volumes about the show’s popularity.

They’ve always sold out, and this year is no exception.

“Every seat has always been paid for,” Solon said.

During off years when the show doesn’t take place, the same producers organize a huge Halloween dance party.

They’ve sold those out, too.

Solon and co-director Brian Fidler didn’t go after any funding this year, so they had to find more local sponsors.

In true Vaudevillian spirit, jingles for those sponsors have been worked in and will be performed throughout the shows.

Even Jesus makes an impromptu appearance, even though no one really knows what he’s doing there.

Simon Vincent, performing on stage for the first time, will play the Son of God.

“I’m thinking perhaps he’s there on holiday,” he said, referring to the Messiah’s unorthodox presence in Hell.

“I’m nervous about it. The other day I heard myself over the monitors and I could hear myself sounding nervous.”

He said he wanted to get involved with the show because he felt he had something to contribute.

“I love variety shows and there are a lot of beautiful women dancing around,” he said.

“I thought, ‘What about something for the ladies?’ This is my contribution.”

A third-level carpentry apprentice at Yukon College, Vincent is also the production manager and built the set for the show.

Just recently he’s been heading over to the Guild Hall after school and working until the wee hours of the morning.

There’s so much work to do he’s even spent the night there.

His costume includes a fake stigmata on his hands and bloody scars on various parts of his body.

“I tried to make it historically accurate,” he added.

Vincent’s disheveled hair and scraggly beard are nice touches, too. It shouldn’t be too hard to recognize him as Jesus on stage.

Patrick Matheson is the lighting designer. He’s been working backstage for 30 years and said he loves collaborating with creative people like Solon.

“I work behind the scenes, so when there’s an opportunity for the technicians and designers to work with visionaries like Fiona it’s always exciting,” he said.

Matheson’s job is to accentuate the visual impact of the costumes and choreography, to make them pop out.

In a town like Whitehorse, it’s easy for like-minded people to slide up and work with each other, he said.

“Like in a fleshy vortex,” Solon chimed in.

Hotter than Hell opened Tuesday and runs through Saturday, Nov. 1.

Nightly shows are at 9 p.m. at the Guild Hall, with additional midnight shows on Friday and Saturday.

The midnight shows are a bit rowdier and feature two different numbers, Solon said.

All performances are sold out, but there is a way to get tickets.

People can show up just before performances and add their names to a standby list.

Tickets will then be sold according to the number of empty seats on a first come, first serve basis.

Contact Myles Dolphin at