Furlesque brings steamy show to chilly climes

A belly dancer appears on stage, performs her routine, and in the blink of an eye the lights turn to a bunch of actors already in a fairytale segment about gender politics.

A belly dancer appears on stage, performs her routine, and in the blink of an eye the lights turn to a bunch of actors already in a fairytale segment about gender politics.

It’s all part of a fast-paced spectacle called Furlesque – part burlesque, part variety show – which models itself after the once-popular vaudeville shows of the early 20th century.

Grant Simpson, who co-produces the show with Shauna Jones, is relying on his experience with the Frantic Follies and as an accomplished musician to make it memorable.

It also helps that he’s a huge vaudeville fan, with Jack Benny and Bob Hope among his favourite entertainers.

Because it’s mostly artist-driven, he said, his responsibility lies with making sure all the different performances tie in nicely together.

“I described it to a friend as someone giving me 100 new colours to my crayons,” he said.

“Straight vaudeville is family-oriented, not unlike the Follies. But in a show like this, there are a lot more options because we’re entertaining adults so the palette changes.

“We’re using a similar formula (to the Follies) where it’s fast-paced, and you never have a split second between the acts.”

The name of the game is variety, Simpsons said, so the audience can also expect a gymnastics show, burlesque numbers and comedy skits.

Who said winter in the Yukon was boring?

George Maratos and Jenny Hamilton will provide comic relief on different nights, and Yukon balladeer Hank Karr will also feature as a special guest on one of the nights.

As if that wasn’t enough variety, local artist Misha Donohoe will be on site, painting a scene from that evening’s performance.

It might end up as a painting that’s for sale after the show, Simpson said, but they don’t know yet.

Jones, who performs a few singing and dancing acts of her own in Furlesque, said one of the goals is to recreate the feeling of old-timey radio shows.

“What I like about those shows is the camaraderie between the actors, and how realistic it feels,” she said.

“It sounds like they’re just having a really funny conversation.”

The producers also want to turn the location – the old Trappers Lounge behind the Days Inn, as it was once known – into more of a performance area than a bar.

“Use the back entrance,” states the poster for the event, giving it a clandestine allure that pleases both Simpson and Jones.

As it stands, actors are rehearsing their numbers individually.

In Lethbridge, Alta., two dancers are currently preparing their number, which they plan on teaching to a third dancer in Whitehorse – via Skype.

When all three meet up next Wednesday, only 24 hours before opening night, they’ll practice the routine together.

Simpson said he’s entirely confident they can pull it off.

“I’ve seen them work so many times, they’re wonderful dancers,” he said.

“They learn so quickly.”

Simpson said he’s hoping to run the show during the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous Festival, and perhaps a few more times next year, using topical themes.

Don’t expect Donald Trump, the controversial American politician and businessman, to make an appearance any time soon, Simpson said.

“I can’t give that guy any more attention than he already gets,” he said.

“But there’s never a shortage of material out there. It writes itself.”

And if you have a hidden talent, such as snake charming or creating magic, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the duo through the Furlesque Facebook page.

“Please approach us because we’d love to consider it for our shows moving forward,” Simpson said.

Furlesque will run from Dec. 17 through Dec. 19. Doors open at 8:00 p.m. and showtime is at 9:00 p.m.

Tickets are on sale at Dean’s Strings and Music Supplies, at the front desk of the Days Inn, or online at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2465614.

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

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