I suppose theatrical reviews are meant to be objective, but after attending a sneak peak of the Bare Bones Burlesque & The Salt Fire Circus, I'm not even going to make such an attempt. It's an awesome show and you'd be a fool to miss it. How's that for objectivity?
For those who haven't been paying attention, burlesque has been on the comeback trail nationally for the last several years - burlesque schools have popped up from New York City to the Pacific Northwest and troupes such as the Yard Dogs Road Show and Seattle's Circus Contraption are cashing in from coast to coast. Local dance maven Julie Hudak decided it was time for Durango to get in on the act.
"I just really wanted to see something like this happen in Durango, and the only way that was going to happen was if I did it," Hudak said two days before the show begins a four-night run Wednesday at the Durango Arts Center.
"I just love that freaky, circus-like counterculture," she said. "It seems like a lot of the art in this town is catered to the tourists, and I wanted to do something created by locals for the local community."
Last fall, Hudak recruited another Durango dance veteran, Chrissy Mosier, to co-direct the show, and the pair's December auditions attracted a venerable who's who of the local dance community. Throw in the multi-talented Bare Bones Band - a well-orchestrated cacophony created by Tonilyn Bringhurst, Trisha Gorley, Colin Rooney, Andrew Saletta and Iris Strand - and the glue that is Tami Graham holding it all together, and you're looking at the best 15 bucks you're going to spend this year.
I should also mention here that it's tremendously sexy. Like, leave-the-kids-at-home sexy. Although looking back to my 12-year-old self, I can't imagine anywhere I would've rather been, I nonetheless leave it to you parents to make that decision. If you want to explain to the young'uns why the pretty girl was dressed up like a lion in a cage and the other pretty girl was whipping her, be my guest. (That's lion tamer Carson Jones and Tiffany Kuepker as the frolicking feline. "Born Free," it ain't.)Hudak said she and Mosier drew inspiration from their modern vaudevillian predecessors, but each of the show's 19 acts is an original creation. The DAC stage is augmented with silky swings and hanging hoops, the latter upon which Mosier and Erika Golightly perform jaw-dropping moves in suspended animation in two separate acts.
It's hard to pick a highlight, but I also enjoyed the traditional burlesque numbers performed by the distractingly gorgeous Talia Bamerick, Maya Sol Dansie, Jamie Pittman and Hudak in classic black and red garb. Pittman and Dansie also shine as Siamese twins during an onstage free-for-all that spotlights the band (they play saws and accordions) and includes knife-juggling and Golightly as a creepy, yet remarkably flexible, ballerina.
For every dance there must be song, and vocalists Rachel Taulbee, Sarah St. John, Aisland Rhodes and Leisha Lawson have the vamp thing down pat. The songstresses materialize from the audience, stroll onto stage at the most opportune of times and Taulbee shows off her pipes in several solo acts. (She recently signed on as a shipboard siren for a cruise line, but that's another story for another day.)Hudak said the Bare Bones Burlesque & The Salt Fire Circus will stay together after this week's run, a portion of the proceeds from which will be donated to the Sexual Assault Services Organization. She said most members of the cast have full-time gigs that keep them busy, but the company intends to regroup later this summer or fall for a Halloween show.