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An Evening of Burlesque (Tour - Manchester)

All tease and no sleaze and worth a watch for Amber Topaz, alone - says Ruth Lovett.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Manchester Opera House

All tease and no sleaze is how easytheatres markets this show. Tantalising yet tasteful, camp and colourful are all appropriate phrases to describe what is on display here.

The evening is hosted by the delightfully sassy yet elegant Ivy Paige, who guides the audience through the etiquette for burlesque and plays the mistress of ceremonies well. Encouraging audience participation and indulging us with a few numbers herself, this fiery red head certainly knows how to handle to audience and her costumes are suitably fabulous.

The programme is varied and full of acts to entertain. Hula hooping, fire eating, belly dancing, non-smutty strip tease, feather dance, singing numbers and magic tricks all make an appearance, as well as all the acts you would expect at a cabaret.

The audience do not need too much encouragement to join in and whoop and cheer the acts on. Some of the acts are better received than others, such as Christian Lee the magician, while the star of the show has to be the wonderful Amber Topaz. Every one of her routines shows her to be a seasoned and talented performer.

She oozes confidence and charm, and this Yorkshire delight holds the audience in the palm of her hand as she proves herself not only a talented act, but also a good singer to boot.

The Folly Mixtures showgirl dance troupe perform a number of solo and group dances, whipping the audience up and demonstrating the age old tradition of burlesque dancing. The girls vary in their ability to hold the audience and at times a couple of the numbers feel drawn and lacking enough showmanship to make the performance feel complete.

We never hear form the Folly Mixtures, which is disappointing, and their contribution could be so much more. All the glitter, feathers and tassels are in place, but the performances are a little repetitive.

It is always a pleasure to see cabaret having a resurgence and there are elements of this production that are thoroughly entertaining and clever. Some of it, however, is a little too basic, though this does not seem to prevent the audience from having a good time.

A bit of variety on a Friday evening is certainly a good thing and long may cabaret shows continue to have success, as they are an important part of theatrical culture.

- Ruth Lovett