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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Harry Potter burlesque and show reviews from Faux/Real

Posted By on Tue, Nov 17, 2015 at 4:15 PM

click to enlarge Sexpelliarmus is a Harry Potter-themed burlesque show.
  • Sexpelliarmus is a Harry Potter-themed burlesque show.

The Faux / Real Festival of Arts concludes Nov. 22, and there are still new shows opening. Reviews of shows including The Eulogy, Once Upon a Dream and others after the jump.

The “nerdlesque” minifestival begins this week, and shows have been moved to Bamboula’s on Frenchmen Street. The nerdlesque minifestival is comprised mostly of local troupes, and Altlanta’s Hysteria Machines visits New Orleans for the first time to perform Sexpelliarmus, its Harry Potter-themed burlesque show.

Hysteria Machines is a collective of burlesque dancers, comedians and other performers. It has presented different styles of burlesque dance, but began focusing on nerdlesque in 2012, creating shows based on pop culture and sci-fi, including The Avengers, Gotham and Game of Thrones. It debuted Sexpelliarmus in 2014 at a Harry Potter convention in Atlanta. Company director Persephone Phoenix had developed the show after performing a Ravenclaw-themed act at Atlanta’s fantasy convention Dragon Con.

In Sexpelliarmus, audience members are treated as Hogwarts students — and they’re sorted into appropriate houses — and the cast stays in character throughout the show. Male and female dancers peel their school robes, including Potter, and other acts include the rapping Dumbledo.

click to enlarge Michael Burgos performs his solo show The Eulogy.
  • Michael Burgos performs his solo show The Eulogy.

The Eulogy
Michael Burgos’ The Eulogy is an entertaining one-man comedy delivered with a minimal amount of props and lighting effects. In it, a man offering a eulogy gets off on the wrong foot while trying to celebrate the deceased. “It’s like he’s won the race of life. And now he’s standing on the pedestal — in the victory box.” Fumbling for a better approach, he recalls accidentally killing his goldfish as a 5-year-old, his first understanding of death. He ends up suggesting the audience has come together to flush the deceased down a metaphorical toilet. Suspect praise and laments continue, and Burgos animates several people’s bizarre eulogies as the ceremony goes off the rails and speakers share ever more inappropriate sentiments. Burgos punctuates his piece with physical clowning and some singing and draws in the audience with wonderful irreverence.

The Eulogy runs at 9 p.m. Thursday to Saturday and 5 p.m. Sunday at Old Marquer Theatre (2400 St. Claude Ave.).

click to enlarge Melange Dance Company presented Once Upon a Dream at the New Orleans Jazz Market.
  • Melange Dance Company presented Once Upon a Dream at the New Orleans Jazz Market.
Once Upon a Dream
Melange Dance Company’s modern dance and ballet piece featured an impressively varied mix of choreography and tones in following a narrative about a separated couple who try to reunite — in what appear to be memories and dreams. Many segments were choreographed by artistic director Monica Ordonez, who also performed in the work. Segments were set to a variety of music including Vivaldi’s Spring, Billie Holiday’s “Gloomy Sunday,” Radiohead’s "Feral" and songs by M83. With 17 pieces set up like chapters in a story, vignettes ranged from ethereal and precise dance with a classical feel to the exuberantly physical and joyous piece “The Daily Grind,” in which workers shed their clothes and the dreariness of office jobs to embrace each other. There also was humor and silliness in “The Drag Queen Spaceship,” led by a trio of men in drag. “Fly, of Course!” capped the performance with a fast and energetic finale featuring the entire company of 11 dancers.

There are no more performances of Once Upon a Dream.

White Sauce and Diaper Babies
Diane Shortes revived her one-woman show in which she animates the poet Anne Sexton, who wrote frank, confessional poetry and attempted suicide several times. Sexton wrote candidly about many personal issues, and Shortes focuses on poems about Sexton’s despair and anger over the suffocating sexism and gender roles of her times. Shortes’ piece addresses Sexton’s treatment for mental illness via segments and poems about her regimen of medications, and whether they constitute death’s diet. Much of the text comes from Sexton’s work, and Shortes brilliantly captures Sexton’s rage over being expected to play the role of a good housewife when she opens a suitcase and brings out a fearsome long knife which she uses to make peanut butter sandwiches. In the piece, Sexton drinks vodka, gobbles pills and struggles to find the foundation to be a writer in a world that tells her to value all of her husband’s needs and thoughts over her own. Shortes has a compelling command of Sexton’s anger and vulnerability. A record player and radio seem to hold out the promise of escape in art and the world outside her domestic confines, while tying a pretty apron around her waist and drawing it around her neck illustrate her feelings of being tied down and silenced.

White Sauce and Diaper Babies runs at 11 p.m. Saturday and 9 p.m. Sunday at Byrdie’s Cafe and Gallery (2422 St. Claude Ave).

Appalachian Spring Break

Composer Brendan Connelly and performance artist Scott Heron’s collaboration is an intriguing, if rather opaque work. If there was a “spring break” feel to it, it’s in the opening cacophony of the two performers bleating sounds from old, beaten clarinets, followed by Connelly tinkering with a microphone and various pedals and electronic equipment while Heron threw around a string of holiday lights. Heron spent the rest of the work alternating between contortions and awkward movement en pointe in ballet slippers and a tutulike diaper and pursuing more elegant steps in a black gown and makeup. After revealing a sign reading “Appalachian Spring — A Ballet for Martha,” referencing the dance piece by Martha Graham, Connelly, also in a dress, unfurled what seemed to be a musical score and played the beaten clarinet. Heron lent a strange poise to the work’s slow and sometimes tortured movement, and it was on odd primal scream take on performing fine arts.

There are no more performances of Appalachian Spring Break.

The Destruction of Dusty Blue
There are entertaining elements in Nari Tomasetti's The Destruction of Dusty Blue, a combination of dance, clowning, acrobatics and live music, but it doesn’t feel fully fleshed out yet. Dusty rides in on a massive wooden horse, and she’s a raging killer. She doesn’t know what to make of all the death and destruction she's wrought, but it’s in her nature and may have sealed her fate. Much of the first act is filled by dance in which Dusty shoots almost everyone who approaches her. A barmaid at a saloon provides great comic relief, but very little happens beyond Dusty’s violent rampages.

The work is labeled a musical, but it could use more of Matt Bell and His Orchestra, who are onstage during the entire show. As the Western theme and setting transition to some sort of limbo or hell, the band plays a countrified version of “Disco Inferno,” one of the piece’s more entertaining scenes. There also are aerialists in the foggy netherworld. The show has a cookout for an intermission, complete with open flame, hot dogs and marshmallows. A few tableaus seem to communicate the entire story, and it seems like it needs more detail.

The Destruction of Dusty Blue runs at 8 p.m. Thursday to Sunday at Happyland Theater (3126 Burgundy St.).

Yellow Eyed Creatures
Performed in front of a massive oak tree at the edge a lagoon at Grow Dat Youth Farm, Ariadne Blayde's Yellow Eyed Creatures couldn’t have a better setting. The drama features a 16-year-old boy who washes up on shore in a swamp, which is occupied by two sisters who are part of another world, with their own animistic religion and worldview idolizing some sort of natural harmony. As the three get to know each other, it becomes a heavy-handed allegory about their opposing views — the boy being a voice for Christianity and voracious capitalism. The first 45 minutes develop slowly and at times awkwardly. The actors often seem at a loss for what to do, as the trio conflate minor acts of finding food or observing animals into grand statements about the management of resources and philosophical debate over what can be claimed, owned or exploited. There is some clever writing, and the story gains traction when the conflict gets focused. But many stones are left unturned and the narrative unfolds in a more forced than natural way.

Yellow Eyed Creatures runs at noon and 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Grow Dat Youth Farm (150 Zachary Taylor Drive).

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