First off, leave the kiddies, the faint of heart, and the religiously bent at home. While you're at it, leave home the homophobes, because this show does get more than a little gay. For the rest of us, and those that don't wilt at the sight of one ridiculously perfect body after another on stage, this evening is a blast.
There seems to have been a revival of sorts of old-style entertainment art forms like burlesque, cabaret, intimate circuses, and a range of other less-easy-to-categorize variety shows. "La Soirée" fits into that “does not fit anywhere” category. It might first appear to be something of a circus; after all, it is presented in the round. But trust me, this is no Big Apple Circus.
Like any variety show, it's made up of many different acts. The show is always changing, ebbing and flowing as new acts join and others leave. Keeping such a show vibrant and fresh might sound easy, but it can't be easy to find acts as good these.
The performance opens with a dapper and well-dressed man coming out. We think he is the Master of Ceremonies, but he goes on to introduce Mario, the “Queen of the Circus”, who is the actual MC. Mario has a striking resemblance to Freddie Mercury, lead singer of the rock group Queen, and we quickly learn this is no coincidence: Freddie’s biggest fan, he performs some impressive juggling acts to Queen music. His biggest talent though, is his great energy and humor, which, with his frequent appearances onstage, permeate the entire show.
On the night I attended the show, I saw what have become some of La Soirée's signature acts. “The English Gents” (Denis Lock and Hamish McCann), who walk on stage dressed as late-Victorian English gentlemen in bowler hats, at first seem to be waiting for the Metro; before long, though, they are climbing all over each other in acrobatic feats that seem more special effect than real. A reprise performance by one of the two gents later in the show was based upon “Singing in the Rain”, but had the gent doing acrobatic things with/on a street lamp post that Gene Kelly could never have imagined.
Another act that stood out in a show of many wonderful acts was one Mooky Cornish. She was bubbly, charming, and above all funny -- think a young Bette Midler. Her act involved audience participation, and though I wonder if the chosen man from the audience was a shill, it makes no difference, as the act was great fun. One of the great thrills for the audience was the hunk of beefcake named Stephen “Bath Boy” Williams. Having pre-draped the front rows of the audience, Stephen rose out of an old-style bathtub in center stage, and proceeded to do something of a striptease/water dance/water spray, and, as two rings were lowered, an aerial acrobat act, as well. Talented, yes. Deeply, no. But fun, yes.
I haven't even mentioned “Le Gateau Chocolat”, an over-sized black man in drag, who has a killer voice and overbearing stage presence, and numerous other players, each unique and entertaining. Go to La Soirée expecting to have fun. You will.
Union Square Theater; ongoing, Tues.-Sun.