Burlesque is going to dazzle the West End for the first time ever.
With bejewelled corsets, staggeringly high heels and vibrantly painted faces, The Hurly Burly Girls will writhe around making entertainment history.
Fronted by the flame-haired Miss Polly Rae, the all-singing, all-dancing show combines traditional burlesque with modern-day cabaret.
Although there’s copious amounts of flesh revealed, Rae is keen to emphasise it’s not the same as stripping.
“The intention is different,” she tells TNT. “It’s not driven to a gentlemen’s club audience. It’s a tease. Enjoy the nudity, yes, but it’s about the reveal. It’s very fun and playful, but a completely different thing.”
Burlesque has been on a long journey before being accepted enough to make it into the mainstream. It has roots in the 18th century, but was popularised in America in the Forties and Fifties.
And until today, you would mainly find shows in undercover clubs.
Rae put together her troupe of seven girls in 2006 and was given residency in London’s Soho Revue Bar.
It then took off to such an extent that William Baker and Steve Anderson – best known for their creative work with Kylie Minogue – got involved.
“It’s the stuff dreams are made of,” Rae says. “All these phenomenal people who are taking this little thing I made up five years ago… It’s unbelievably exciting.”
So why is now the right time for burlesque to hit the big time?
“I think everyone loves to be a little bit saucy,” Rae, 29, purrs. “And it’s that element of feel-good saucy that’s not threatening. Eighty-per cent of our audience is women.
“From a felinity point of view, burlesque is about the feminine form and women find that really inspiring.”
Each of the Girlys has a different character, with their own individual costumes, make-up and hair colour.
And they each have their own act – from balloon popping (one you have to see), fire-eating and ballet.
“They all bring their own thing,” Rae explains. “The show is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. It’s a pop show, a cabaret show, a circus show, a variety show. We’re hoping people are going to love it.”
Garrick Theatre, Charing Cross Road, WC2H. Tube: Charring Cross. Until 1 May. Tickets priced from £25.50
Catch some burlesque in London …
Influence the next batch of rising stars by voting in Burlesque Idol. Newcomers battle it out to win prizes. The night also features comedians and burlesque stars and producers on the judging panel.
» Madame JoJo’s, 8-10 Brewer Street, W1F. Tube: Oxford Circus. Friday, March 25 (every Friday). 6.30pm-3am. Tickets from £10.
Dress in your wildest, gladdest rags and step aboard, back in time, to an age of loose women, unravelled men, hard dancing and mad drunken music. Steamboat Bordello, the crudest, rudest cabaret on the water will be sailing with you aboard this genuine paddle steamer. Starring Roxy Velvet, Fabulous Russella, Vicky Butterfly, Fancy Chance, Ophelia Bitz, Ruby Blues.
» The Dixie Queen paddle steamer, Tower Pier, EC3N. Tube: Tower Hill. Sunday, May 1. 4.30pm-10pm. From £40.
The teams behind two of London’s hottest alternative club nights – Bête Noire and Boom Boom Club – and come together to produce a feast of vintage-inspired entertainment providing an antidote to dark, dreary nights. My Gosh Marvellous, Dusty Limits, Roxy Velvet and Ruby Blues star at La Reve.
Big is beautiful
Big Beautiful Women Burlesque – don’t go with any misconceptions, this show does exactly what it says on the tin. Run by Duchess Divine, the show believes in curvaceous feminity and the beauty of shape. Tempest Rose comperes and Rose Thorne, Lil Miss Chievous and Ross Hughes perform.
» Volupte Lounge, 9 Norwich Street, EC4A. Tube: Chancery Lane. Thursday, March 11 (every Thursday). Shows 6.30pm and 9.30pm. Tickets from £15.
Edging more towards cabaret, at Supper Time enjoy trapeze and high balancing acts, singers, jugglers, hoola hoopers, fire eaters, and leftfield style music hall style shows over a four-course meal. After, the venue turns up the volume and there’s dancing til 3am.
» Supperclub 12 Acklam Rd, W10. Tube: Westbourne Park. Every Wed-Sat. From £40.
Exclusive guest appearances from burlesque royalty Miss Esme Bianco. Other guests at Tassel Club include circus performer contortionist Miss Pixie Le Knott and the show also stars Sophia St Villier, Betsy Rose and Roxy Velvet. With guest vocalists from Amber Topaz and Joanne Jollie in stunning Victorian venue The Bathhouse.
» 5 Bishopsgate Churchyard, EC2M. Tube: Liverpool Street. March 10, 17 and 24. Tickets from £10.