Warmly hosted by the charismatic and multi-talented Marissa Burgess, longest-serving performer of the Moulin Rouge, Cabaret de Paris was an exciting and delighting Parisian-themed revue frothing with feathers and sequins, featuring dazzling costuming, intriguing illusions, and high-energy dancing.
The dancing in this 90-minute production was, frankly, of a higher calibre than the Moulin Rouge dancers when we saw Feerie in Paris in 2012. The dancers were synchronised, and technically precise, every kick at the same height, every toe pointed and arm in time with the others. A minor costume malfunction was managed smoothly, unhurriedly, and with professionalism. All of the dancers onstage proved themselves to be strong, flexible, and versatile entertainers.
Choreography by Todd Patrick was simple but snappy, making use of traditional showgirl movements and props, and varying from fast-paced, modern dance to more traditional showgirl cannons and high kicks. This included, of course, the famous can-can that finished the first act with a bang. The music also varied across time, from Edith Piaf songs to modern tunes like ABBA’s Voulez Vous, Art Vs Science’s Parlez-vous francais? and Christina Aguilera’s I Am A Good Girl from the 2010 film Burlesque.
Burlesque is almost equally about what is shown and not shown, what is worn and not worn, and the costuming of this production was awe-inspiring. Enormous headpieces, glittering leotards, beaded gowns, luscious feathered fans, and more were highlighted by the dramatic lighting design. Although the evening shows were topless, only two of the female performers were topless during any one piece (and I would assume that the men were topless in the ‘covered’ matinee show regardless), and the choreography maintained that tasteful air of mystery and glamour that has made burlesque and cabaret enduring art forms.
Michael Boyd astounded the audience with his incredible illusions, seemingly making dancers levitate, disappear, and reappear, leaving the audience to wonder in awe at how it could have been done. Gravity-defying aerial pole artistry, split-second costume changes, acrobatics, and several duets of incredible balancing acts kept the audience gasping as well.
Cabaret de Paris interspersed dance with singing, magic, and a funny and fantastic interlude of audience participation. It was a glittering night out, a celebration of the much-romanticised ideas of French cabaret and showgirls, and a wonderfully polished performance overall.