LA SOIREE: Remembering the Evening of Love

Article by Wun Kuen Ng
Photo credit Niko

LA SOIREE, a half-theatre, half-circus performance inspired by the Edinburg Festival, is an alternative to the late night cabaret. Creative-producer, Brett Haylock gathered a group of unconventional artists on the fringes of society for an evening of low and highbrow glamour, sexy humor, and physical dazzle. These strange, weird, crazy talented artists include Stephen Williams, whose signature act, “Bath Boy,” leaves the audience gasping for air as he performs aerial ballet above a tub in wet jeans; The English Gents (Denis Lock & Hamish McCann) in their pinstripe suits and bowler hats perform gravity defying acrobatics; Mario, Queen of Circus (Clarke McFarlane) acts as the comic relief throughout with his adult comedy routine, juggling act, and unicycle talent; Ursula Martinez does a taunting striptease and disappearing red hanky; Mooky engages one audience member to feed him the lines of a couple in love in unexpected places; Jess Love showcases her hoola hoop dancing abilities; MeowMeow, the special guest is the ultimate cabaret diva warming the ears of the audience with her prima donna drama and singing; and finally Miss Behave does unthinkable things with a scissor, latex glove, and a night stand. The show is now playing at the Union Square Theatre on 100 East 17th Street.

Haylock curated the show with the theme of l’amour or love. As MeomMeow sings, “There is now cure for l’amour. What are you going to do when you are in love?” With this topic, expect funny, clever, and not so political correct comments. There are thirty artists in the group, Haylock changes the lineup every now and then, but the sprite of the show is always the same. It is a fun two-hour escape that is well paced, with appropriate music, a whole host of hilarious spunky characters, small intermittent humorous acts, and memorable lines and talent. The show starts and ends with MeowMeow singing.

Each act was well rehearsed; all seven performers were amazing and wonderfully varied. Our three favorites were “Bath Boy”, “The English Gents”, and Mooky. “Bath Boy” and “The English Gents” showcased the art and physical form of the human body. Technology has made life lazy and these two performances will inspire one to move, if not workout, after witnessing the midair splits on dance poles, one hand stand on top of another person’s head, holding one’s own weight in the air with two straps. It will be a motivation. In Mooky Cornish’s performance, she engaged an audience member named Healy. She had him read unscripted lines on the back of her yellow dress, thumb, garter belt, butt, etc. The lines were original and naturally funny. The second act was weaker than the first, it was slow and more wind down to the evening, after watching some intense performances. It was good fun and the performers had great interaction with the audience.

The Union Square Theatre was transformed into a sexy circus cabaret; the floors were covered and raised, the walls were draped over with red velvet curtains, the stage was set in the center of the theatre with ringside seats. The space had a cozy feeling, whether seated upstairs in the balcony or sitting downstairs, the visual and the excitement of the gravity defying acrobatics was an amazing experience.  The only downside was that the audience in the balcony may not be able to see some of the performers interacting with audiences directly underneath the balcony. The LA SOIREE cast and crew were circus-style costumes to ensure the audience an exhilarating experience, with music numbers to match.

Watching LA SOIREE, brings back memories and the feeling of being a kid again. The varied talents of the evening suggested that there will always be a home for quirky personalities. As an audience member said, “I did not like the show, but LOVED it.” The group has been touring for ten years non-stop in Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and all over Europe. It has no been to Asia yet but Haylock pointed out that the show can reach across any language barrier. Kind of like love.

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