Zip Productions’ ‘O’Say Can You Tease’ - Theatre Review and Interview

If you’ve never been to a burlesque show before, you might not know what to expect. The most common understanding is that it’s a bunch of women taking off their clothes. Well, the ladies of Zip Productions will be the first to tell you—and show you—that there’s much, much more to it than that. First and foremost, burlesque is an art form, and nowhere is that more apparent than in a show like O’ Say Can You Tease.

Performed on President’s Day weekend, the show is described as “Sexy POTUS.” The ladies all dress as U.S. Presidents, or people associated with U.S. Presidents, and use song and dance to reenact important moments from our nation’s history—generally while either scantily clad or taking off their clothes.

A variety of pasties, designed to fit the theme of each scene, keep things tasteful throughout; however, to counterbalance that tastefulness, the show also features a healthy dose of bawdiness and double entendre. All of it’s done in good fun to give us a lighthearted and entertaining show from beginning to end.

I’ve seen a few other shows from Zip Productions, and they usually have a male host/MC holding things together. For this show, though, the MC is one of their own: Sally Sin Cyr (Kellie Holm, creative director of the company). She guides us through the show with charm and wit, alongside her long-suffering and under-appreciated assistant, Ruby Wren (Haley Schott). This dynamic gives the show rather a different feel to it than the ones with male hosts. In particular, it emphasizes the fact that, no matter how much they may dance or disrobe for our pleasure, the ladies are still the ones in charge.

Near the beginning of the show, the entire ensemble does a rather impressive rap with the names of all 44 Presidents. After that, our current Commander-in-Chief is portrayed by Kali Lily Luz (Carissa Jocett Toro) to the tune of “Uptown Funk.” Later in the show, Kali also portrays our nation’s first president, while the song “Cherry Bomb” plays as a tribute to Washington’s famous chopping down of the cherry tree.

Various presidents and their legacies are portrayed in all manner of interesting and unusual ways throughout the show. Perhaps the most unique is John F. Kennedy. Rather than showing the President himself, the show gives us an astronaut, complete with space helmet, portrayed by Clementine Noir (Frannie Williams, also the show’s choreographer), in tribute to Kennedy’s pivotal role in our movement space-ward.

Most of the presidents portrayed are from the 20th and 21st centuries. Lynx Les Paul (Cat Cela) portrays George W. Bush as a cowboy. There are tributes to Nixon and Teddy Roosevelt, as well as regular appearances by Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton. And, speaking of Clintons, they’d be remiss if they didn’t do a number on the Clinton/Lewinski sex scandal. In this case, we get Sasha Snow as Bill Clinton and not one but two Monicas portrayed by Lynx Les Paul and Kali Lily Luz.

Towards the end of the show, though, we start to get into some of the older presidents, including the aforementioned “Cherry Bomb” song, as well as Sally Sin Cyr as Abraham Lincoln. There’s even a short skit featuring the ladies as the Founding Fathers, in wigs and tighty whities, drunkenly trying to put together the Constitution. And, Sasha Snow’s Sexy Ben Franklin is something you won’t soon forget.

A word of advice for attending a burlesque show: Always sit in the front row. In several numbers, the ladies dance up close and personal with members of the audience, and while they do get to the other rows too, the focus is largely on the front. I spent almost the entire show with Barack Obama’s necktie draped around my neck. She told me I was her favorite.

For me to choose a favorite among them, however, would be next to impossible. All the ladies have different talents, which Creative Director Kellie Holm knows how to make the best use of. Holm herself, as Sally Sin Cyr, is quick-witted and sarcastic as she banters back and forth with Ruby Wren. Sasha Snow, meanwhile, is great with physical comedy, which she displays as both Clinton and Franklin.

Some of them dance to pre-recorded numbers, while others sing their own songs. Sally Sin Cyr does a great rendition of “Eye of the Tiger” in her Abe Lincoln number. In terms of singing, though, the most impressive is Ruby Wren, whose voice will give you chills.

All in all, this was a great experience and probably one of my favorite Zip Productions shows. It was sexy, funny, very entertaining, and a whole lot of fun. Most importantly, it shows how burlesque can be empowering. Everything they do is on their own terms, and we, the audience, are honored to be able to be a part of it.

Zip Productions’ next project in April promises to be even more ambitious: a neo-burlesque version of Alice in Wonderland called Painting the Roses Red. I, for one, can’t wait to see it.

For more information on Zip Productions, visit their website or "Like" them on Facebook.




In the following audio interview, the performers of Zip Productions chat with Fanboy Comics Contributor Steven W. Alloway about their work on their show.

 

For more interviews, reviews, and podcasts, please visit www.fanboycomics.net.

Last modified on Tuesday, 16 February 2016 18:33

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