Last night I checked out the May edition of Gotham Burlesque at The Triad NYC (158 72nd Street). Presented by Filmmaker Gary Beeber, Gotham Burlesque is an evening of song and dance, echoing an art form of a bygone era. This evening of visual treats plays the first Saturday of each month with a rotating cast at this intimate Upper West Side venue.
For several years now, there has been an undeniable rise in the popularity of burlesque thanks to Dita Von Teese. Frankly though, most of the burlesque I have seen out there has not been that good. It’s been dull and self-serving. Gypsy Rose Lee would frankly be rolling over in her grave.
Gotham Burlesque however breaks through the malaise of this neo-burlesque to give the audience a thoroughly fun ninety minutes. These talented performers did a great job not only performing the art of the striptease but also finding the humor in the art. Gypsy Rose Lee would be proud.
The star of May’s show for me was most definitely Miss Nasty Canasta. (I’m assuming that she’s a Miss, because I didn’t see a wedding ring and I could see everything.) This throw back to Sally Rand did a fan dance to the tune of every New Yorker’s favorite thing – the incessant car alarm. Her timing and surprise ending easily made her the funniest moment of the evening. I sincerely hope that Beeber has her in future line-ups.
James Habacker was great as Master of Ceremonies, Mel Frye. His creepy, “Tony Clifton” type character was funny and kept the show moving (unlike Andy Kaufman’s actual “Tony Clifton”). The only thing I disagreed with was the idea of making his character older. Old doesn’t really read well onstage, unless you are actually old. At some point I was focusing more on his wig than his jokes. I would have bought this character more if he were a creepy, younger guy.
Gotham Burlesque is an open-ended run. Check them out on Facebook and at www.gothamburlesque.com.