Cabaret De Paris

Seven Moulin Rouge trained showgirls in sparkly sequinned skimpy bikini outfits, balanced by feather headdresses and boas and in impossibly high heels accentuating their very long legs, flanked by two athletic male dancers who finally take off their shirts in the last number.

This ensemble of highly skilled and sexy dancers are the heart and soul of the Cabaret de Paris: A Burlesque Extravaganza, produced by Michael Boyd and choreographed by Todd Partrick and Matt Browning. But Rhonda Burchmore, veteran cabaret entertainer, is the major drawcard for this Parisian-styled revue.

This show has been kicking around since at least 2016. This post-COVID version of the show keeps the same format but with a few new numbers and some personnel changes, including Rhonda as the new leading lady.

It’s a very portable show, doing three shows in 2 days at iconic theatres across Australia since last year. This explains the minimalist set design and recorded music rather than live musicians. Instead, the $250,000 worth of lavish costumes were a feast for the eyes and brought the era of French cabaret a la Lido and the Moulin Rouge to life.

Musically, there was a lot of variety – from upbeat bass-heavy electronic dance music (Parlez Vous Francais) to jazz big band more traditional ballads evoking old-school Paris (think bandoneon).

The can-can mashup was an example of this in one number – from a modern dance rhythm version, Voulez-Vous, to a 1950 adaptation of Can-Can Polka with kitschy lyrics by Jimmy Kennedy to the original whirling dervish Galop from Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld. The choreography of this number was particularly engaging, with the mix of modern and traditional styles and the oh-so high kicks!

I was absolutely drawn into Michael Boyd’s magic of illusion and was riveted to watching Veronica on the pole and on the floor for her contortion act. Similarly, the short acrobatic act of the male dancers and the intense adagio style pas de deux (acrobatic dance duo featuring high lift poses) were breathtaking. However, Rhonda Burchmore provided the substance of the show with her solid singing chops and personal stories.

Rhonda is celebrating 42 years in showbiz, and I was reminded of Tina Turner, who also flaunted her legs on stage well into her mature years. She looked wonderful in the gorgeous gowns and even entertained us with a very discreet strip tease, assisted by her charming male assistants, culminating in a dramatic costume change.

However, the price of wearing the stilettos that go with such ballgowns is very painful bunions, as she admitted when she rushed to sit down. Most of us ladies are now relishing the current fashion trend of wearing sensible shoes with just about anything.

I would love to see a version of this show where Rhonda gets to wear Hoka One Ones with the sumptuous evening dresses. After all, she’s six foot one “and worth the climb” – she doesn’t need the extra height.

Alas, the Cabaret De Paris was showing only for this weekend, but keep an eye out for this troupe of performers as new show dates are coming soon.

This review also appears on It’s On The House, and check out more reviews at Dark Stories Theatre to see what else is on in your town.

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