No matter how glamorous it seems, a professional show tour that goes venue-to-venue for months at a time has got to be a grind. You do eight shows a week. Then it's Sunday night, and your day-and-a-half weekend has just begun. Where do you go? What do you do?
What else? You put on a show.
The new downtown Durham nightclub, The Casbah, was the venue for a self-styled Burlesque Extravaganza, an after-hours performance with the feel of a private birthday party—with a little something extra—among friends in the cast and crew of the touring version of The Lion King. A mix of townies and touring colleagues packed the room for a series of variety acts calculated to let performers let down their hair—and articles of clothing—and let the freak flags fly.
After the demure and decidedly continental Nicholas Carriere opened with the offertory "Welcome to Burlesque," terpsichorean tributes—some lip-synched, some not—to Whitney Houston, Christina Aguilera and Patti LaBelle were the order of the evening. These were skillfully performed by drag diva Malia, leading a legion of superb women athletes in fishnet and little else besides. An astounding mid-show act transformed the humble pole dance into the aerial choreography we've come to associate with acts like Cirque du Soleil. Trash with flash was leavened by the occasional comedy or spoken-word routine before the night ended far too soon with a gender-bending homage to Chicago and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
There's one more scheduled performance, but it's already sold out. If you can score an invite to a backstage gig like this, go.