Arts and Entertainment

Burlesque is back

Sylvain Boulet, one of the dancers featured in “The Birthday Boy.” - Contributed photo
Sylvain Boulet, one of the dancers featured in “The Birthday Boy.”
— image credit: Contributed photo

In what kind of a world can burlesque dancers, performance art protesting solitary confinement and ballerinas share the stage?

Well, they might not share the same stage at the same time, but these are just a few of the acts that will be seen in various shows for the upcoming Winter Carnivale, Friday, Jan. 20 — Sunday, Jan. 22 at the San Juan Community Theatre.

‘The Birthday Boy’

This original musical “The Birthday Boy,” written by co-producers Mary Lou Mills and Lina Downes, who is a part-time San Juan Island Resident, premiered in 2011 to a sold-out audience.

Nicholas Zervas and Patti Bair reprise their popular roles in this adults-only play on Friday night featuring Seattle stars from The Can Can Club, including dancers Danny and Sylvain Boulet and aerialist Michele Francis among others.

“There will be nudity,” said Downes. “Well, partial nudity.”

Last year, the show was sold out and 100 people were put on a waiting list, according to Downes.

But some islanders raised their eyebrows — concerned that burlesque was too risque for Friday Harbor.

“There was really a buzz around town,” said Devorah who plays a spy in the show. “It’s a really fun and campy show — tongue in cheek innuendoes. People were laughing months after the show ended.”

When Downes is asked if she is objectifying women in the burlesque show, she replies no, but says, I do objectify drag queens.

She describes the show as a musical with humor similar to Mel Brooks and Monty Python.

“There’s not one swear word,” said Downes about the show, which requires audience members to be over 18 or with parent accompaniment. “No one has sex in the show — the Laramie Project [recently shown on Lopez] is way more controversial than this.”

She said what is controversial are the undercurrents of vegetarians versus carnivores in the show, which has a plot revolving around a sausage casing mogul.

“It’s not dark, it’s hysterical,” said Downes.

Two nights of art and music

While Friday evening centers on comedy, Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon take on a contemporary and classical tone. Julie Hagn, seen on the Whittier stage as a sassy dancer during a brief intermission in the “Ladies’ Man” will be featured in an original piece choreographed by Downes. Other dancers to look for are Jolie Loucks, a  ten-year-old “prodigy” according to Downes, and Leslie Lott, a former Rocky Mountain Ballet Theatre ballerina.

And only on Saturday night, Cynthia Church will perform performance art expressing a protest of solitary confinement in prisons.

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