An Evening of Burlesque
Updated: Jun 22
The UKs longest running Burlesque show hit Darlington Hippodrome right between the eyes and deep in the feels for a magnificent cabaret evening packed full of song, dance, feathers, fans and frisky naughtiness.
Ask any Burlesque virgin what they think of and they will often cite the Carry On style, titter-at-the-back strip tease shown on Super 8 at a 'gentlemans' club. You can't really get any farther from the truth; Burlesque is a time honoured tradition of variety, cabaret, skilful acts and comedy fun. The origins of many of the acts are centuries old, some were founded in ancient circus, some from exotic courting rituals and many have evolved into mainstream entertainment.
For this slice of succulent splendour, our host was none other than Darren Charles, lifelong performer and star of many shows both on the West End and around the World. Hits such as Carmen Jones, Five Guys Named Moe, Bollywood Nights, The Screams Of Kitty Genovese, A Harlem Dream and Sister Act are credit enough to his talent and amazing range, but it is perhaps from his performances as the iconic Sammy Davis Jr. in The Rat Pack Live From Las Vegas shows that people will remember him most. Charles oozes style, class, comedy and, according to many in the audience, no small amount of sex appeal and is the perfect host and compare for a Burlesque evening.
In his capable hands, we are lead through the evening's delights and delicacies;
Bruce Airhead- The metamorphosis of a man and a six-foot balloon! A truly original slice of street theatre. Performed on three continents, laughed at by Royalty, enjoyed by everyone, this is an unmissable scene - part mime, part latex, all unflinchingly like a prostate exam gone wrong.
The uber-naughty and mesmerisingly lithe Sebastian Angelique. who proves that it's not just the girls who can tease and tantalise with his own Boylesque routines - high octane dancing coupled with sexy suggestiveness, what a mischievous little imp he is.
Cherry Shakewell is what some would say the epitome of a Burlesque dancer; she has poise charm, curves to rival a double bass and can spin a pair of tassels like the twin props of a spitfire on take off. Cherry has performed all across Europe, Milan, Rome, Venice, The Moulin Rouge in Paris and Wilton's music hall in London and brought a whole new feeling to James Bond's Goldfinger whih I am sure even Dame Shirley would have approved of.
Multi talented piano maestro Chrys Columbine started her performance of classical piano chamber music dressed in vintage Proms concert attire, but (and much to the delight of the audience) she ending her act wearing considerably less. She has the 3 B's - Beauty, brains and body.
An escapologist who defies the usual concept of ridding himself of a straight jacket by doing so while also ... well, I won't say what, suffice it to say I have not felt my nether regions tense up so much since that time i had Covid and ate an out of date yoghurt.
Star billing (if there could be with such a constellation on stage) would go to Miss Isabella Bliss - the Marylin Monroe look and sounds -a-like. Isabella oozes all the sultry sexiness of Norma Jean, the breathless huskiness, the little girl next door and the blond bombshell. Whether it was hitting the high notes of a power ballad or paying cutesy in her omage to Mary Martin in Cole Porter's "My Heart Belongs to Daddy", Isabella has a wonderful singing voice, which just ups the ante when added to all her other charms.
Her quest to find a new 'husband' presented her with a particularly feisty and somewhat unexpected guest when she called up on stage a few members of the audience and ended up serenading a real Burlesque Kitten - hilariously funny, totally unscripted and a wonderful 'extra' to the show bill.
The end of the show was probably everything Burlesque is about - a glamourous lady slowly teasing us to her tassels and then bathing in an oversized cocktail glass - if that isn't a perfect end to a brilliant night out then nothing is.
If you've not been to a Burlesque show then throw out any preconceived ideas, misconceptions and prudey inhibitions - book tickets, take your friends, your partner, someone else's partner and give yourself permission to have fun - you will be so glad you came.
An Evening of Burlesque is an Entertainers production - Entertainers are a family business with a long exciting history of over 27 years, a mainstay of UK theatre. They create shows that stand out from the crowd, shows that engage, electrify and people connect with.
Check out their website www.entertainers.co.uk for details of their fabulous range of shows and performances. They have a great run of shows coming to the North East and Darlington in particular.