December 7, 2011

WEB EXCLUSIVE: Have a very Vixen Christmas

Va Va Vixens present ‘Va Va Revue’
Dec. 9-10
Headliners Music Hall
1386 Lexington Road
$20-$30; 8 p.m.


Leave it to the Va Va Vixens to offer up the most inventive holiday show of the year. Their astounding “Va Va Revue” is like Christmas in Killarney, if Killarney was a speakeasy in 1920s Paris.

The most fascinating part of this show is that it never feels like the conventional audience/performer relationship. The Vixens go out of their way to bring you in as though you are as integral a part of the show as the performers on stage. This has a lot to do with their ability to utilize the whole room inside Headliners — even before the show starts. Upon entering the house, music is classic holiday tunes kicked-up with a bit of a punk infusion. Also, a kissing booth and scantily clad women walking around with old cigar trays, handing out free candy and cookies before the show begins, are small details that help to set the vintage mood for their “Va Va Revue.”

It opens with a short revue of songs, featuring a couple of members from the cast doing solos — and I’ll be damned if they don’t have voices that could shake the walls of Jericho. Trading off the microphone between songs, they weave their way through half a dozen or so classic tunes like “Blue Christmas,” “Be Nice to Mama” from Broadway’s “Chicago,” and an electric rendition of Ella Fitzgerald’s “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?”

And then the actual show begins …

The Coopers, a repressed Midwest couple, are planning a party, which the audience has all been invited to, in celebration of the holidays. And then Santa arrives … well, not really. Crass Kringle, a drunken re-incarnation of Billy Bob Thornton’s “Bad Santa,” arrives with his gang of dancers, acrobats and contortionists to lighten the evening’s mood. The ongoing banter between Crass Kringle (played hilariously by the show’s co-writer Matt Goodlett) and Ms. Cooper, along with Kringle’s eventual corruption of Mr. Cooper — make for great levity between the actual burlesque segments.

It’s hard to talk too much about the performances themselves … you just have to see them. The jilted surprise is part of the fun. But there are hula-hoops, and popping balloon costumes, and semi-topless twins, and breathtaking acrobatics high over the stage floor. The whole experience from beginning to end is a feast for the senses. And when one young woman sings the line “Santa Claus is coming down my chimney tonight” — you get the idea she isn’t talking about the one attached to a hearth.

Ultimately, the show feels like a Christmas celebration in Dante’s second ring of lust. And if holiday purists could see through the cheeky (no pun intended) nature of the show, passed the half-naked dancers and the hilariously tawdry character of Crass Kringle, then the Va Va Vixens could become one of Louisville’s most treasured holiday traditions.

This weekend will be the last run of shows this season, and it would be a Christmas anti-miracle for anyone to miss out on all the risqué fun. 

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