Now undergoing its fourth incarnation, Varietease has officially become a burlesque franchise.
Over the last two years, the ragtag troupe of dancers, artists and entertainers who make up Varietease have done two traditional burlesque shows and a burlesque carnival.
On Saturday, they’ll bring into existence their newest creation, the Varietease Versus Sasquatch Prom Date dance party.
“We wanted to have more fun this time,” said Jessica Hickman, a local dance instructor who helped choreograph many of the night’s performances.
Saturday’s event continues the franchise’s evolution toward looser, more creative ways of performing burlesque.
Varietease’s two early shows didn’t really involve audience members.
People sat in their chairs in a conventional setting while seductive dances and comedic routines took place on a stage.
In their burlesque carnival last winter, they toyed with the setup.
A full-scale carnival with seedy games, a tattoo parlour and a bar brought audience members further into the realm of burlesque.
Many attended the carnival in costume, sporting their own lingerie and leather while watching the show.
Now, Varietease has gone a step further.
This time, attendees can be forgiven for not knowing where the stage ends and the audience begins.
“We wanted to break down that fourth wall,” said Hickman.
Taking place at the High Country Inn Convention Centre, the dance party will feature burlesque dancing and a four-set rockabilly marathon by Sasquatch Prom Date.
The dancers will mingle with the crowd during the whole thing, breaking out into a performance when you least expect it.
“It’s very blurry on whether this is a performance or this is the party,” said Hickman.
The intimate setup creates a lot less pressure than the more staid, traditional performance structure, she said.
“There was a lot of expectations in the (older) shows.”
The performers are getting the hang of the burlesque gig, and so are the directors.
This will be the fourth time Brian Fiddler, the show’s artistic director, and Fiona Solon, the producer, collaborate on Varietease.
Ryan McNally, of Sasquatch Prom Date, performed in last winter’s carnival.
But he’s about to take off on a solo tour Outside, making this the last time he performs with his popular rockabilly band until the new year.
Sasquatch Prom Date’s songs inspired many of the dance routines, said Hickman.
Hillbilly Highway will feature dancers performing on the front of a big truck, but that’s the only clue Hickman would offer.
Saturday’s event will also feature a haunted house, designed by Anthony Trombetta and Erica Bigland.
“It’s not like most haunted houses,” said Hickman. “It’s really terrifying.”
The haunted house will open up between Sasquatch Prom Date’s sets, she said.
Trombetta and Bigland are experienced haunted house builders.
They designed one three years ago for a Halloween fundraiser, said Trombetta.
“It turned out to be a huge success,” he said.
Echoing Hickman, Trombetta said the house isn’t for the squeamish.
“We’re going for some big scares,” he said. “This is an adult-themed house.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, 400 tickets had already been sold.
That leaves around 150 spots to go, so don’t wait until the last minute.
Tickets are available at Triple J’s Music for $38. Doors open at 8:30. The show starts at 9:30.
Contact James Munson at