Say the word “burlesque” and most folks call to mind raunchy entertainment akin to what’s found in strip joints. While they might be right about the risqué elements, they would be wrong in equating it solely with striptease.
With roots in musical theatrical parody, American burlesque shifted under influence from minstrel shows, then vaudeville. Burlesque would incorporate acrobatics, comedy, magicians, athletics and exotic dancers.
Eventually the more varied entertainments fell away as cinema attracted audiences and the exotic dancing and comedy became more prominent. Even that fell away in the mid 20th century — excepting the musical “Cabaret” — as the disparate elements of burlesque were apportioned elsewhere throughout modern life.
Cue the neo-burlesque movement of the last couple of decades, which has bloomed on both sides of the Atlantic. A resurgence began in 1990s New York City and has spread to all three U.S. coasts. Troupes can now be found from Seattle to Los Angeles to New Orleans to Charlotte to Brooklyn, where a 13th annual burlesque festival happens this month.
Now Mobile has its own troupe ready to strut the boards, widen eyes and lighten hearts. Camellia Bay Burlesque will premiere at Alchemy Tavern (7 S. Joachim St.) Friday, Nov. 13, at 11 p.m. Founder Takillya Sunrise describes their vintage-style performance as “theatrical entertainment that includes a comic emcee and performers ranging from dancers, an aerialist, circus sideshow acts and much more.”
For more information, go to Camellia Bay Burlesque’s Facebook page.
Beautiful bodies at Blue Velvet
It was back in the aughts when Blue Velvet Studios began its annual Nudes in November event. Though Blue Velvet has migrated from its former Dauphin Street digs to 504 Church St., owner Karen Cassidy is still celebrating the human form each fall.
A reception for the 6th annual show unfolds Friday, Nov. 13, from 6-9 p.m. All types of media are included and a few copies of the previous season’s Nudes in November book will be on hand as well. Artists on display include Pat Hayes, Yevette Ward, Suzi Spies, David Trimmier, Trey Oliver, Margaret Warren, Jeff Byrd, Hunter Cobb, Daryl Evans, Sandy Vrchalus, Katrina Kiefer and Karen Cassidy.
Attendance is free.
For more information, go to Blue Velvet Studio’s Facebook page.
Symphony goes casual for Beethoven and Blue Jeans
In keeping with the laid-back vibe of its hometown, one of the most popular series for Mobile Symphony Orchestra has been its Beethoven and Blue Jeans concerts. That continues Nov. 21 and 22 when maestro Scott Speck welcomes his dressed-down guests to the Saenger Theatre (6 S. Joachim St.) to enjoy the sterling sounds of the Romantic era’s most passionate composers.
The playbill for this year’s event includes Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, one of the most recognizable and dramatic works in the classical canon. Other portions of the slate include a piano concerto by MSO’s former composer-in-residence Kevin Puts and Jean Sibelius’ evocative tone poem “Night Ride and Sunrise.”
The Saturday show begins at 8 p.m.; the Sunday matinee is at 2:30 p.m.
The concert is sponsored by Alabama Power Company and Lowell and Bobette.
Tickets are $20-$75 and can be purchased at the MSO box office (257 Dauphin St.), online at www.mobilesymphony.org or by calling 251-432-2010.
Reduced-price student tickets are available for both performances. Through the MSO Big Red Ticket program, students in grades K-12 can attend the Sunday performance free when accompanied by a paying adult. Membership packages are available at substantial savings off single-ticket prices. More details about the MSO’s 2015-2016 season can be found online at www.mobilesymphony.org.
USA Opera at Laidlaw
The University of South Alabama Opera Theatre ensemble will stage its annual presentation of Opera and Musical Theatre Scenes for two performances featuring its most promising young talent.
Under the direction of Dr. Thomas Rowell, hopefuls from the USA Department of Music will perform works from Verdi’s “La Traviata,” Donizetti’s “Don Pasquale,” Stephen Sondheim’s “Putting It Together” and “Company,” Bizet’s “Carmen,” Humperdinck’s “Hansel and Gretel” and Loesser’s “Guys and Dolls.” Also performing will be Department of Music faculty member Andre Chiang and piano accompanist Dr. Jasmin Arakawa.
Performances are in the Recital Hall at the Laidlaw Performing Arts Center on the USA campus. The Friday performance is at 7:30 p.m. and the Sunday matinee at 3 p.m.
Tickets are only available at the door. Admission is $8, $5 for USA faculty, staff, students, youth under 18 and senior citizens.
For more info, call 251-460-7116 or 251-460-6136.