Let’s begin by admitting that burlesque-type entertainment is not to everyone’s taste. Then let’s revisit the sage advice about trying everything twice to see if you like it, since you might have gotten it wrong the first time. Kiss Kiss Cabaret’s “Holiday Spectacular” revives the spirit of the genre with revelations both dramaturgical and corporeal. A chorus of stripping lovelies perform routines both time-honored and unexpected, a naughty-but-nice pas de deux-couple deliver the shivers that thrill, and a gentleman-juggler proves that vaudeville is still with us. All are lovingly and leer-fully corralled by a clown MC, whipping-and-warming up the audience. Here we have comedy, vaudeville, lots o’ burlesque, and there’s a little magic thrown in for good measure; all the ingredients for a sexy, fun-filled romp. Burlesque has roots going back to the 1840s, and it isn’t going away anytime soon. But enough of the academics. Bring on the girls!
The lady (and I use that term with cheerful looseness) MC Tamale sports long red hair and a whitened face adorned with two red hearts. The night I attended, she knew the names of many of the guests (especially those celebrating birthdays), and showcased a gift for being able to turn a heckle into a funny exchange, and then keep it going as a subplot throughout the show. Tamale has clear talents and makes descriptions of her youth fun, but learning the cardinal Rule of Three—you must push a bit, a story, or a catch-phrase to the third delivery to get the full laugh, and then never mention it again—will make her an unstoppable comic force.
Then there were the whirling, twirling ladies who kept losing their clothes. All of the soloists had that little “something” that made them stand out. Their routines could be categorized as dance as much as strip-tease; there is a real thrill in watching a garment float off into the air as a now-nearly-naked beauty pirouettes across the floor. For the aficionado, there is some bump-and-grind moments and the expected fan-dance (delivered with subtlety and charm). One of my favorite girls mixed some sort of magical potion during her ice-queen number, creating a powder that resembled snow; then gathered it in her palms and spun and spun, the flakes shooting out into beautiful patterns, sparkling in the lights, announcing and anointing the season.
If the ceiling was too low for the juggler, there were sound problems and ballet boy was overdressed, why quibble? It all happened in front of a red lamé curtain, so we’re set! Kiss Kiss Cabaret’s “Holiday Spectacular” is a great, lighthearted way to celebrate the season. Have a few drinks, meet a few ladies and ride your holiday-taxi home. (Aaron Hunt)
Kiss Kiss Cabaret at the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 North Lincoln, (773)404-7336, kisskisscabaret.com, $20. Through December 19.