On Wednesday night I was invited to Bain Mathieu in Hochelaga to preview the Bang Bang Cabaret Prohibition, a 1920s themed circus and burlesque show up this Saturday. It was the dress rehearsal and the bathhouse turned performance venue smelled faintly like birthday sparklers because performers were practicing with fast-burning flash paper as part of their more fiery burlesque numbers.
The beautiful hall complete with depth markings in tile around the used-to-be pool looked hardly performance ready, littered with juggling pins, rope, and nettings. But Esmeralda Nadeau-Jasso, the Artistic Director for the cabaret, assured me the place will be set-up speakeasy style with the audience comfortably in tables around the stage come show-time.
“Not a lot of people do both circus and burlesque, we’re integrating the two…” said Nadeau-Jasso, “it makes it a big challenge for us, for a performer to juggle or eat fire and also take off their clothes!”
Performers distractingly milled about, chatting and juggling and and swinging from the ceiling on nets and rope. It was all feathers and pearls and legs for miles. A girl in a fur coat fluttered by as I took photographs singing “hide-dee hide-dee hide-dee hi, low-dee low-dee low-dee low” perfecting the old-timey vibe building in the space.
Over 40 people are involved in putting this sexy and quirky cabaret together, the same group that produced Arena, a Roman-themed circus/burlesque show this past summer. This time, half of the acts will be backed by The Unsettlers, a ten piece live band.
“The combination of circus, burlesque, and cabaret in this historic public bath is definitely open to all people… above 18,” said the cheeky Antonio Bavaro who is hosting the show and performing a set in drag as Connie Lingua. “How often do you get to see hot jugglers and burlesque girls on trapeze, live music and drag queens all in one show?”
Each performer was given free-reign to do whatever they pleased with their set, as long as it fit within the 1920s theme.
“But’s it’s not all sexy,” said Bavaro. “there is some darkness in the show. One of the numbers deals with the stock market crash and there’s touching on alcoholism, it’s not just comedy.”
Bang Bang Cabaret prohibition goes up this Saturday for one night only at Bain Mathieu, 2915 Ontario Est, 8pm (ticket info available online). Prohibition is not enforced at the venue and drinks will be available for sale. There will be an electro-swing dance party directly after the show and it promises to be a “roarin good time!”
Look forward to video coverage from ForgetTheBox.net