At Les Coquettes dinner cabaret, pastries and pasties can both be enjoyed. And are.
“This is a professional theatre company, but it’s not like a Mirvish show. We’re gonna show you our tits!”
So began the second installment of Les Coquettes burlesque troupe’s Speakeasy dinner theatre series on Monday night, housed in the exposed-brick fortress of Little Italy’s Revival bar. It seemed appropriate that the event be held there, in a century-old former Baptist church. The sage old space served well for an evening of scintillating song and dance, lending architectural dignity to what mistress of ceremonies La Minouche (a.k.a. Les Coquettes’ artistic director Catherine Skinner) cheekily dubbed “our combination of dinner and titty.” And at tickets up to $85 a pop, both dinner and titty deserve to be packaged in a classy setting.
Of course, there’s nothing inherently unclassy about burlesque, despite what some of the more prudish among us may presume about the performance art.
Striptease is certainly a centrepiece of any burlesque show worth its salt—or its sequins—and Les Coquettes prove that showing some skin takes real artistry. The women and men who took to the stage are solid performers with undeniable song and dance chops; cabaret patrons may come for the scantily clad dancers, but they will certainly stay for the talent.
The 90-minute show that followed executive chef Christopher Woods’ expertly prepared menu (and it should be mentioned that Christopher Woods once cooked for Morgan Freeman) included singing, dancing, and even aerial acrobatics; not bad for a weekday night on the town. Special musical guest Big Rude Jake, a bluesy 1940s throwback on acoustic guitar, warmed up the crowd before and between dance numbers, which included meticulously executed routines running the gamut from sexy tango to sultry ballet.
But sexy and sultry never turned sleazy, which is the beauty of burlesque done right. In an art form more about the tease than the strip, the draw is in the nuance. And Les Coquettes have (pardon the double entendre) nailed it.