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'Tease'

A Big City Kitties Production in association with Crow's Theatre. Now onstage at Crow's.

A Big City Kitties Production in association with Crow's Theatre. Now onstage at Crow's.

Joe Szekeres

“A sexy, sassy, sultry and seductive show. Sometimes, the production is funny as hell. But it’s also more than that.”

The show's title lives up to what it promises.

The press release describes ‘Tease’ as “salty as it is sweet in its exploration of sex, politics, and what it means to be a woman in this reimagining of the burlesque comedy genre.”

It’s 18+, so be prepared for what Val (from the musical ‘A Chorus Line’) calls “Tits and Ass” because there are lots and lots of peeks. There are also moments of audience participation. I don’t want to state what the first one is because that would spoil the fun. I even learned something about my accompanying guest after that game.

Be prepared for ALL kinds of surprises, and I do mean that!

But ‘Tease’ is more. So much more.

That’s why it’s worth visiting Crow’s Theatre and seeing these sexy, sassy, sultry and seductive ladies do what they love doing – to entertain and to inform.

We have entered the environs of a shadowy lit stage with three black chairs placed centre stage reminiscent of the Kit Kat Klub from the film version of ‘Cabaret’. I know it’s illegal to smoke indoors in public settings (and I rarely see smokers anymore), but I also expected to see lingering second-hand smoke. Thankfully, it’s not there, and I’m pleased the technical elements did not feel the need to incorporate it.

Dressed in stylishly sexy black underwear and wearing stiletto heels with perfectly coiffed hair, exact makeup and ruby red lipstick, performers Lindsay Mullan, Glenys Marshall, and Mei Miyazawa sashay onstage with controlled abandon. At first, they reminded me of author Ira Levin’s Stepford wives in their sexy underwear having drank way too much caffeine. They begin erotic swivelling and gyrating to pulsing music to fire up the crowd.

I was impressed at the number of ladies in the audience on opening night. From the sound of them, they wanted to have a good time. One ‘innocent’ lady came up on stage after she was the remaining one from the first game and was told she would be turned naughty by the end of the night.

When that occurred, said lady was truly enjoying herself—as were all of us who were watching from behind the footlights.

‘Tease’ is also enlightening. Videographer Liam Grue and Video Editor Nigil Vasquez have compiled a collection of various moments of many women film celebrities caught in moments of feminine sex appeal. For instance, seeing a very young Lucille Ball in a black-and-white clip dancing in a chorus line was interesting. I kept an eye out in that video montage for Gypsy Rose Lee. I didn’t see her, or there’s a possibility that I missed it. If she’s not there, might a clip be added?

Yet ‘Tease’ is more, thankfully more.

For one, it’s reminiscent of the art of burlesque. I rarely get a chance to see this art form performed anywhere.

Here at Crow’s, this reimagined burlesque show is terrific.

‘Tease’ is sass and seduction. It’s an evening’s worth of entertainment and handled with class. But be prepared going in. It’s adult-oriented. It pushes the envelope, which is what burlesque can do (especially in the eleven o’clock ‘Naughty Nun’ number). Creator Lindsay Mullan directs the show with integrity and pride. She never allowed it to veer out of control.

I enjoyed the show, even the moment that made me feel a tad uncomfortable regarding anyone who practices the Christian faith.

Along with Mullan, Glenys Marshall, and Mei Miyazawa smartly reflect what burlesque is meant to do. First, it’s meant to entertain us, and these ladies more than competently do that through sketch comedy and improv with the audience. There’s a comment about wondering if theatre reviewers would have been in the opening night audience, and these gals mentioned a well-known and respected Toronto person. The ladies did a quick scan from the stage to see if that person was in the house. (Side note: it wasn’t me. But I’m not going to spoil the reference. Who knows? These ladies may change the name in each show and mention other reviewers throughout the run.)

Burlesque also parodies current world events, and Glenys Marshall magnificently does that in a rip-roaring vocal song satirizing world leaders (and Toronto’s Doug Ford) about climate change.

The burlesque art form in ‘Tease’ comes from allowing the audience to see, I mean to really see, these women for who they are.

I don’t mean necessarily for their bodies, although the ladies showcase themselves with pleasure and delight.

Instead, these women know the game. They’re highly articulate, intelligent, and savvy. When the ladies drop the bimbo sound in their voices, Mullan, Marshall, and Miyazawa (I just recognized the alliteration) are hot and sexy. That’s when, according to the press release, the three “deftly challenge society’s patriarchal views and misogynistic expectations.” I laughed out loud a few times. There were moments when the roof was blown off from laughter because timing of the joke or reference is expertly achieved.

Great fun. Highly recommend ‘Tease’.

Keep an open mind and eye, though.

Running time: approximately 90 minutes with no interval/intermission.

‘Tease’ runs until March 30 at Crow’s Theatre, 345 Carlaw Avenue, Toronto. For tickets, visit crowstheatre.com or call 647-341-7390 ex. 1010.

‘Tease’
A Big City Kitties Production in association with Crow’s Theatre
Created and directed by Lindsay Mullan
Written and performed by Glenys Marshall, Mei Miyazawa, and Lindsay Mullan
Choreography by Gabriel Gonçalves, Dana Thody, and Mei Miyazawa
Lighting Designer - Mathilda Kane
Costume Designer - Janelle Joy Hince
Costume Accessories - Charlie Quinn
Videographer - Liam Grue
Video Editor - Nigil Vazquez
Stage Manager - Sophi Murias
Assistant Stage Manager - Emma Jo Conlin
Producer and Production Manager - Emma Westray

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