I saw, by chance of a last-minute scalped ticket, the show Hurly Burly, which has been creating quite a buzz since before it premiered in early May. This burlesque-themed show has enjoyed fantastic word-of-mouth reviews and some local press. It’s selling out almost a full week in advance!
Where do I begin?
I suppose I begin with the gist: I loved this show. Admittedly, I’d never seen good burlesque before tonight—just a handful of skittish women trying to find the rhythm in a Kid Rock/Scott Joplin mash-up. The mostly-female cast of “Hurly Burly” redefined what burlqesue can be—namely, fun. Burlesque isn’t just about sexual titilation, nor is it just about body-positive empowerment; it’s both of those and a lot of old-fashioned song-and-dance-esque fun.
This show had a bit of everything. It had plenty of funny lines and game playing, but plenty of earned and authentic pathos too. Songs. Dancing. 95% nudity. Wisecracks. Sad and funny and real and playful. It had everything.
For a show this wild, this rooted in the tradition of madcap musicals like Cabaret or Hedwig, it seems counterproductive to highlight any single performer—because tonight, the lead gal, played by Halyn Erickson, was a start-to-finish delight, a giant ray of naughty sunshine that cut right to our funny bone.
Still, I have to sing the praises of Audrey Sansom, whose Marilyn Monroe-inspired character was so authentic, so detailed and real and full of life! This woman is one of the best actors in improv in Austin.
But make no mistake, this is an ensemble endeavor. This is a bunch of people spending many, many hours becoming intimate and vulnerable with each other. This was trust, this was support, this was friendship. A spirit of “we’re all in this together!” permeated the cast and, eventually, the audience.
The highest compliment that I can think of for “Hurly Burly” in particular is that I think Liza Minnelli would adore it. I’m confident she would. And if she didn’t, she’d be wrong. Because “Hurly Burly” is sheer and unabashed entertainment.
Thank goodness creative people create.