“Don’t you wanna be the life of the party?”
Jim Jackson hands out candy as you take your seat. It’s a little indulgence that sets the tone for the evening: a nibble of chocolate, a sip of whiskey, a wink here and a wiggle there.
Millibo’s late-night production brings together cabaret, circus and burlesque at a friendly neighborhood speakeasy in the Prohibition era. The fifteen acts range from a brassy lounge singer to an acrobatic pole dancer to a Newsies-inspired aerialist. It’s the kind of place where a juggler might drop his pants . . . or shimmy in a dress.
Aerial routines make up half the night. Big moves really pop in this small venue, allowing you to savor each quivering muscle and calculated release. At a few moments, you’ll actually see the artists hesitate, bringing their humanity to light. Rather than the alien dreamscape of Cirque, Circus of the Night showcases flesh and muscle and struggle and triumph—but mostly flesh.
Dave Hale and Elizabeth Fluharty steal the show with a lyrical silks duet. Their entwinement is so lovely, so intimate, that you’re almost afraid to cheer. (Let the silence linger; they’ll take a bow after the routine.)
The burlesque switches each weekend. My night featured a fan dance and a peek-a-boo balloon-popping act. Both ladies honor their craft, but it’s tough to stand out when you share the stage with a stripper who back-flips on stilts.
That’s not hyperbole, by the way. It happens, and it’s amazing!
The first thing you notice is the crowd. Between price and programming, most theatres whittle their audience to a particular demographic, but Millibo’s sexy circus attracts all types.
Meghan Frank and Buba Basi, both classically trained, kept me laughing all night as Keystone cops drawn into the flappers’ world.
A few sound effects fell out of synch with the “silent film” gags onstage. The board operator recovered nicely though, finding the rhythm in time for a hilarious, wordless seduction between the cops.
“Circus of the Night: The Flapper Follies” contains bawdy humor and bared bodies. Leave the kids at home.
Millibo Art Theatre
1626 S Tejon St
Box Office: (719) 465-6321
Playing July 21 – August 26, 2017
Running Time: 2 hours