Lola Rose was my gateway drug into burlesque.
I was already a big burlyq wannabe the day that, having determined that I have nowhere near the upper body strength to pole dance, I decided to use the rest of my pole dance class Groupon to check out the studio’s burlesque class, taught by the endlessly energetic spitfire Lola (who may or may not be part fae herself, just sayin’). Unlike a lot of burlesque classes that focus on building stage personas, Lola’s class was a weekly dance class that taught classic burlesque technique. I was hooked; I drove an hour out of my way every week to keep going. I took her four-week boot camp for learning how to be a performer, and BAM– Diva Darling was born in an explosion of metallic confetti and neo-weirdness like Dionysus bursting forth reborn from Zeus’s thigh, set loose to leave my idiot-woman-child mark upon stages across the DC metro area.
Flash forward a few years to the present. Lola and I have stayed in touch and worked together off and on since then, and my Press page is flush with great reviews (ahem) from her 2015 Capital Fringe show, Burlesque Classique‘s Vaudevillian Romp. Lola says that this year she’s doing A Midsummer Night’s Dream as a mashup of a cut of the script with a bunch of burlesque and vaudeville acts. Am I in to play Titania?
Me [in fairy costume before she finishes asking the question]: Fuck yeah. Let’s do this thing.
Because the thing is, when Lola Rose says “Come do Fringe with me,” you best listen. It’s going to be a chaotic whirlwind, and she’s going to yell a lot (including when she’s happy), and she’s going to give you quite a lot of leeway to make all kinds of creative contributions of your own, and you will sweat and stink and have way more fun on this wild ride even than you expected. Plus, Burlesque Classique is a known quantity at Fringe. Having done my own turn producing at Fringe laboring in total obscurity, that’s no small thing.
But Burlesque Classique is not just a bunch of performers having a wank onstage for our own jollies– it’s perfect Fringe fare for audiences who just want to go have some shameless, silly fun for an hour and change. It’s high-energy, sparkle and dancing, slapstick and hot melted cheese and kicking down the fourth wall to bring the audience in on our antics. And it’s in the Logan Theater right off the Fringe bar. So by the time you’ve seen your fourth experimental multimedia spoken word examination of genocide and you’re wondering if you could actually drown yourself in DC’s swamplike humidity and be quit of this horrible world, you can take your icy cold drink and let us treat you to the finest of Shakespearean dick jokes.
Also, there’s boobs.
This Midsummer is a big reunion show for me. I’m back with not just Lola as Hermia, but also Vaudevillian Romp’s marvelous and endlessly charming Karen Beriss/Mae Wreak Havoc (Puck, in a huge moment of “well duh”) and the sultry Lavender Noire (Lysander) who sets the stage on fire with her dancing. Plus, I lured in my real-life partner (and creative soulmate) Sean Butler to Bottom to me (see what I did there) and take his own first crack at real burlesque, as well as one of my favorite dream-team actors Eric Cline (Demetrius). Sean, Eric, and I did a Vegas Midsummer a few years back that Sean directed and in which I played Titania (as Mae West by way of Miss Piggy) and Eric played Demetrius, but I promise that in this production we totally didn’t pretend we were just that much better than everyone else at memorizing lines. I also get to work again with Ártemis López, one of my favorite tech people who miiiiiight have totally saved my ass the year I produced for Fringe.
(When I recruited Eric, I swore to him that Lola said the role didn’t call for a strong dance background. He shows up to his first rehearsal and Lola’s all, “So today we’re going to learn the finale dance. Oh and Eric, here’s two more dances you’re going to learn.” So Eric may never trust me again, but at least he stopped giving me side-eye, and I gotta say, the boy’s a natural. He’s super frickin’ hot in his numbers.)
But I also get to work with some fantastic new-to-me people. We are all safely placed in the capable and super-efficient hands of stage mama Ginger Jameson. The aptly-named Emma Zonn is our fiercely formidable Helena demanding to be acknowledged (you’ll be happy to comply), and we were fortunate to get the wildly talented Sun King Davis as our Oberon/Theseus, who is by turns wicked, regal, playful, and always tremendous fun to play off of. And then of course there’s my fairy court, who double as the Mechanicals and Egeus– Vanessa Iorizzo (Quince), Nastya Djacov (Snout), Bailey Jameson (Egeus), Queen Nefertittie (Flute), and Laura Vucci (Snug). These wonderful women are not just tremendous fun to work with, they also embody the two sides of this show– the smokin’ hot sassy fairy sex of the title and the show’s official tagline, and the completely self-aware, over-the-top ridiculous antics that you really want in a bar show. I’ve also got to give them a little extra shoutout, because a lot of their job is to follow me around while I snack on the scenery, and I’m the kind of performer who likes to try out my little creative inspirations in the moment without, y’know, any warning. And they are always SO right there with me, picking up on exactly what I’m throwing at them and running with it in perfect Team Titania sync. If you’re not a performer, let me tell you– that’s exactly the kind of quickness and responsiveness that every actor dreams of having in her castmates.
If it looks like we’re all having a blast up there on stage together, well, it’s because this is a fabulous group of people and I personally want to put them all in my pocket and take them home with me.
I want to tell you all the stuff that I love in this show so that you will understand why you really NEED to come out and play with us, but at the same time, I don’t want to give away the things that I hope will surprise and delight you. So first of all, if you’re not a Fringe-goer already, you should read my love letter to Fringe from last year to understand why you should get out to see SOMETHING at Fringe. And second of all, since this *is* a Midsummer burlesque after all, let me tease you with some of the reasons why you’ll come out of our show feeling upbeat and happy and energized and generally feeling great about life:
- As with all Burlesque Classique shows, there are *hothothot* group dance numbers in classic burlesque tradition that you don’t get to see at most shows where everything’s a solo. Did I mention these numbers are knicker-meltingly hot?
- 70 minutes of shameless sex jokes
- Delightfully cheesy and decidedly ear-wormy comedic dance numbers
- If someone walks across the stage three times with beer refills during the show like someone actually did in Vaudevillian Romp, we are going to mercilessly fuck with them, and you’ll want to say you were there to see it
- People get varying degrees of naked and let me tell you that the eye candy factor is *not* inconsiderable
- I have something in the show that I can’t describe without giving it away, but I’m seriously busting ass on it, and if it has the effect I intend, I’m pretty sure it will be SUPER COOL Y’ALL and like nothing else you’ll see at Fringe
- Collectively we have a much-lower-than-average amount of dignity
- You might end up with a fairy in your lap. Or Puck. Or who knows what might happen to your lap. That’s your business.
- ALL THE GLITTER.
- Lola is leaving us for France after this show to rejoin her new husband like WHATEVER LOLA GO BE MARRIED AND STUFF so who knows when you’ll get to see my burlesque mama’s productions again?
- When the show is over, you will be MERE STEPS away from not only the bar but the food truck, and you’ll be in Fringe Central which is the most fun place in DC to be in July.
So, check out my Calendar page to pick your date, and make sure you go buy your tickets ahead of time. Burlesque Classique’s last two Fringe shows sold out so if you take your chances, you might be left outside in the sultry heat sad and dejected instead of inside with air conditioning and music and laughter.