"English Gents" in LA SOIREE. Photo by Olivia Rutherford.
BOTTOM LINE: Sexy subjects, jaw-dropping stunts, and impressive comedic bits for a rowdy night out with your significant other, a bachelorette party, or anyone who doesn't mind a bit of nudity.
The circus is in the city! Wait, let me rephrase that. It doesn't accurately portray La Soirée. How about: The adult cabaret is set up near Union Square. Grrr, that still isn't right. Hmmm... I got it! Preeeesenting a variety of acts not fit for children *drum roll* come see the hilarious, incredibly talented, shocking, and ever-entertaining adult burlesque circus that is LA SOIRÉE!
As "The William Tell Overture" plays its ubiquitous chords La Soirée is set to begin. It is a cornucopia of acts presented on a silver platter with knife swallowing, acrobatics, and an Allan Sherman-esque song to juggling, great music, and a little magic. Very few times in my life have I witnessed such spot-on performances live. The skills in which the English Gents, Miss Behave, Stephen Williams, Meow Meow, Mario the Queen of the Circus and all the others showcased their skills was extremely impressive with remarkable showmanship.
I did not know what to expect seeing as how different performers have cycled in and out of the cast since it opened in its original version as Absinthe: Les Artistes de La Clique in 2006. Since then, in its different iterations, the show has been “seducing Paris, Sydney, Stockholm and London.” I am hesitant to share too many details since the mystery of what occurs at the show adds a lot to its charm. It is also difficult to capture its essence with mere summary.
What I can tell you is that the rules are introduced at the beginning of the night. Photos are not to be taken during the show, a standard request of most productions. A second rule is to remind audience members that there are two bars in the theatre and people are welcome to get up and use throughout the night. A surprising third rule is for everyone to make noise when they are enjoying what they see. This is made sufficiently easier because the seats are set up in a circle around the main platform.
With the variety of performances many of the acts incorporate audience participation into the astounding stunts and antics. Some people are only engaged verbally while others are asked to step into the limelight. If you are not ready to participate and simply want to observe the hysteria unfold I suggest you sit farther back or choose a seat in the balcony.
Each number of the night presents your psyche with a variety of emotions. There were those who sat perfectly still and wide-eyed in amazement as well as a handful of people unsure if they should be watching some of the naughtier sections of the performances. Others teetered on the edge of their seats unabashedly smiling , laughing, and drooling. Most people swayed to the music, incessantly hooting, hollering, and clapping. During some of the acts I noticed audience members were frozen with shock. Everyone had different reactions to each performer, but every face I saw at the conclusion of the show looked like a conglomerate of being flabbergasted, impressed, and satisfied with money well spent.
(La Soirée plays at the Union Square Theatre, 100 East 17th Street through March 30, 2014. Performances are Tuesdays through Thursday at 8PM; Fridays and Saturdays at 7PM and 10PM; and Sundays at 5PM. Tickets are $30-$188 and are available at ticketmaster.com or by calling 800.982.2787.)