If you’re looking for an enchanting emcee who can walk the fine line between low-key and high class while sipping a giant martini, look no further than MsPixy, the quick-witted host of the Belmont Burlesque Revue (BBR). Languidly pacing the stage in a shimmery evening gown, she leads audiences through this eighty-minute mix of burlesque, comedy, music and magic (or “a variety of entertaining and often sexy-like things,” in her words) every other month on a stage at Theater Wit with a rental agreement that MsPixy describes as similar to “your cousin who stays on your couch,” since the revue essentially borrows another show’s set for the night.
On Saturday night, the abstract set for Shattered Globe Theatre’s “The Grown-Up” provided a space for the ladies (known collectively as the Belmont Bombshells) and gents of BBR to perform upon. And perform they did, opening with a parasol-spinning Bombshell quartet that may have been the weakest number of the night, but set the stage for the kind of shimmying and teasing that ever-growing burlesque audiences have come to expect.
Formed in 2003, BBR is no newcomer to the scene and it shows in the casual but structured way the evening unfolds. Essentially, MsPixy gives a brief (or, often, not-so-brief) introduction to each piece, improvising engagingly as she goes, and then steps to the side while an individual performer takes center stage. The lineup changes with each show, but Saturday’s performance featured solo burlesque acts by Bella Ciao, Naughty Natanya, Diva LaVida, Hazel Hellbender and Slightly Spitfire, as well as magic and comedy from The Amazing Tomas and a bit of music from The Existential Cowboy.
Though the show flows together solidly, each piece is unique, with performers showcasing their individual personalities and style. In this line-up, two performances stood out: Diva LaVida’s impressively high-energy takedown (and take-off) of the quest for money and success highlighted comedy and unpretentious performance art while Slightly Spitfire’s powerful solo brought serious dance and gymnastic athleticism to the forefront.
Anchored by MsPixy’s hosting, this long-running revue displays the best of burlesque and makes it clear why it’s become a mainstay on Chicago’s stages. (Zach Freeman)
Belmont Burlesque at Theater Wit, 1229 West Belmont, (773)975-8150, belmontburlesque.com. $16. Bimonthly open run.