Suzy and I went to see the movie Burlesque with Cher and Christina. I noted that Christina Aguilera adopted Cher’s ‘one name only’ moniker. Unfortunately the movie was a watered down Burlesque of sorts, with very little of the grit and grotesque that is usually found in a read Burlesque show. The music was fun too, but came just short of the fantasical, whimsy-filled comedy that the band can add.
Burlesque: A humorous theatrical entertainment involving parody and sometimes grotesque exaggeration.
Suzy and I almost got into Moulin Rouge in Paris when we were young married types. But the show was sold out. And our trip to Berlin got canceled because of the off again, on again political climate. So we have never been to a real Burlesque show. We came close attending Cirque du Soleil’s Zumanity in Las Vegas which was described thusly:
ZUMANITY unveils the sensual side of Cirque du Soleil. This mischievous production blends playful innuendo with daring eroticism in the intimate ZUMANITY Theatre. A provocative cabaret-style production, ZUMANITY features outrageous humor, alluring acrobatics and intoxicating dance set to the pulse of intoxicating rhythms.
Naughty, yes. Fun, oh yes, Too spicy for many, unfortunately true. Beginning in the early 18th century, the term burlesque was used throughout Europe to describe musical works in which serious and comic elements were juxtaposed or combined to achieve a grotesque effect. Early theatrical burlesque was a form of musical and theatrical parody in which a serious or romantic opera or piece of classical theatre was adapted in a broad, often risqué style that ridiculed stage conventions.
In late 19th century, the United Kingdom, in particular, such dramatic productions became very popular, especially at particular theatres such as the Olympic and the Gaiety in London. In Britain, burlesque was largely a middle class pursuit, where the jokes relied on the audiences’ familiarity with known operas and artistic works. Its predilection for double entendre and casting female stars in the lead male roles (or ‘breeches parts’) gave burlesque its risqué popular appeal. Gradually burlesque performers started appearing in music halls too, performing musical sketches for the working classes with political and social satire. This form remained popular well into the 20th century and can still be found today on television sketch shows. To save confusion, the traditional British burlesque style is now known as ‘musical burlesque’ or ‘classical burlesque’ (in the case of sendups of the classics) and is still active today with a handful of specialist writer/performers and producers.
In 20th century America the word became associated with a variety show in which striptease is the chief attraction. Although the striptease originated at the Moulin Rouge in 1890s Paris and subsequently became a part of some burlesque across Europe, only in American culture is the term burlesque closely associated with the striptease. These shows were not considered ‘theatre’ and were regarded as ‘low’ by the vaudevillians, actors and showgirls of neighboring theatreland. (Wikipedia)
There were some flashes of the real Burlesque show thrown in, but they were precious few and far between. But as far as I know, the Zumanity show comes as close as any in the US to a real burlesque. I did see this New Orleans Burlesque Fest poster from this year. So maybe I just need to do more research to finding something as fun. Ping me if you have suggestions.
I have to admit, looking for pictures for this piece was more fun than writing it. Much of what I found could not be used as it was waaaay too risqué. <smile>