La Soirée

Theater, Circuses & magic
4 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

La Soirée. Union Square Theatre (see Off Broadway). With ensemble cast. Running time: 2hrs. One intermission.

La Soirée: In brief

The team behind the 2006 Spiegeltent spectacular Absinthe returns to New York with another sexy razzle-dazzle of cabaret, vaudeville and neoburlesque. Performers include stars of the acclaimed troupe La Clique.

La Soirée: Theater review by Adam Feldman

[Note: The lineup of acts has changed since this review was written. The English Gents, Stephen "Bath Boy" Williams and Mooky Cornish are now joined by performers including Cabaret Decadanse, Marawa and Scotty the Blue Bunny.]

Spice is the life of variety in the delectable La Soirée, a saucy revue that punches up neocircus, comedy, burlesque and cabaret with generous dashes of hot pepper. Much of the show was presented in New York City in 2006 at the Spiegeltent, under the name Absinthe; thanks to the core strength of its gifted performers, it is very enjoyable in this second helping.

Hunky-dory acrobats provide most of the flesh. Denis Lock and Hamish McCann, billed as the English Gents, bring stiff upper lips and ripped upper bodies to a witty hand-balancing act, in which they affect imperturbable British gentleman’s-club airs while performing impressive feats of strength and flexibility. (McCann returns later for a slow, graceful Chinese-pole dance.) And the sculpted Stephen Williams, dressed only in a tight pair of blue jeans, makes the most of a bathtub and hanging straps in a splashy seat-wetter of an aerial act.

On the distaff side, the sexiness inclines more toward comedy. Ursula Martinez gets up to some quite shocking hanky-panky in a magic-striptease number (adorably set to Henry Mancini); Miss Behave, a devilish sword swallower, performs outré sideshow tricks, including one that redefines the term tongue twister. Jess Love, in a sparkly usherette costume, does a perky hula-hoop routine.

The ever-demanding meta-diva Meow Meow stops by—on her own terms as always—to deliver three musical numbers drawn from the classic international repertoire. Adding to the sense of abundant fun are Mooky Cornish, who leads a member of the audience through a very funny mock acting scene, and Mario, Queen of the Circus, who keeps multiple balls in the air as a leather-clad, fake-mustached, oversexed juggler and Freddie Mercury enthusiast.

La Soirée’s lineup of performers will evolve in coming months, but creative producer Brett Haylock—who greets patrons in a pin-striped suit—can be relied upon to keep it up to snuff. It must be said that the Union Square Theatre is not ideal for La Soirée’s small round stage and intimate relationship with the audience. (The old expression about throwing a hot dog down a hallway comes to mind.) But the performers draw you in with their talent and shameless cheek. Sit up front, have a drink, and don’t be afraid to get a little dirty.—Theater review by Adam Feldman

THE BOTTOM LINE Neocircus performers play fast and louche in an appealingly naughty spectacle.

Follow Adam Feldman on Twitter: @FeldmanAdam

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