Critics experienced the international burlesque cabaret that is La Clique on Friday (10 October 2008, previews from 2 October), but the company and their special guests were properly celebrating after last night’s performance at Leicester Square’s historic Hippodrome, which has reopened as a public performance venue specially for the show’s London debut (See News, 27 Aug 2008). It’s initially booking through to 1 February 2009.

A mixture of cabaret, new burlesque, circus sideshow and contemporary variety, La Clique’s eclectic assortment of acts includes: Norwegian contortionist Captain Frodo; Spanish stripper Ursula Martinez; Germany bathtub-diving aerialist David O’Mer; hula hoopist Yulia Pikhtina from Kiev; strongmen the English Gents (in fact Australian); London’s own PVC-clad fetishist Miss Behave; the puppets of Montreal’s Cabaret Decadanse; and New York alternative comedian and Freddy Mercury reincarnation Mario.

TO SCROLL THROUGH ALL OF LA CLIQUE's GALA NIGHT PHOTOS,
JUST CLICK ON THE "NEXT >" LINKS BELOW THE FOLLOWING FRAME.
PHOTOS BY DAN WOOLLER FOR WHATSONSTAGE.COM.

For 1st Night Photos, our Whatsonstage.com photographer Dan Wooller was on hand for the curtain call and post-show party at Hippodrome, along with the company and other guests including Tameka Empson, Sean Foley, Maureen Lipman and Paul Merton.

La Clique has performed seasons around the world including Sydney, Melbourne, Montreal, Dublin and New York in addition to regular summer stints at the Edinburgh Fringe, where it’s annually one of the hottest tickets at the festival. It’s presented in London by La Clique Productions, Mark Rubinstein and Mick Perrin.

First constructed by Frank Matcham in 1900 as a water circus, the Hippodrome’s early performances featured elephants, polar bears and sea lions which all frolicked in its 100,000-litre pool. A varied history has seen it operate as the location for one of Harry Houdini’s greatest escapes; and in the 1960s and 1970s, the stage was graced by the likes of Judy Garland, Shirley Bassey, Ethel Merman and The Temptations in its incarnation as the dinner-dance venue Talk of The Town. It was purchased in the early 1980s by Peter Stringfellow who turned it into a nightclub and returned it to its original name, the Hippodrome. Most recently, the venue has been used for private events only.

- by Terri Paddock