Conceived, Directed, and Choreographed by Austin McCormick
Produced by Company XIV
Off Off Broadway, Burlesque
Runs through 11.12.16
The Irondale Center, 85 South Oxford Street
by Keith Paul Medelis on 10.23.16
The ensemble of Paris. Photo by Mark Shelby Perry.
BOTTOM LINE: Always a good, sinful time with Company XIV.
Walking into the Irondale Center, a relatively quiet church in Clinton Hill, your senses are invaded with the scent of roses, meticulous pink-hued bulbs in every fixture, and gender-fucked, burlesque costumes exposing some of the most fine-tuned bodies in all of New York. It’s this sense of precision that Company XIV is gaining notice for, so much so that my guest commented upon returning from the restroom that he half expected a butler in there to assist, when needed, with a warm towel. Paris, and I assume the other offerings of this unique company, is an event. It’s meant to be enjoyed with liberal drinks and food (there are two long intermissions in this two-hour feast) and the focus here is on the dancing, circus, and the costumes (by a gifted Zane Pihlstrom); the story is irrelevant.
Theasy loves Company XIV. As can be seen here, here, and here. And what’s not to love when the critic and guest are greeted with chilled champagne at their seat? You should plan to come to Paris with an open wallet and a desire for gluttony. Not only will it serve the company’s current goal to find a permanent home well, it will up the enjoyment ante significantly.
With no program provided, it’s difficult to provide special call-outs to some notable performances—of which there are many. We’re treated to some incredible acrobatic pole-dancing on what appears to be an unsteady pole. She then begins to sing, implausibly so, in a high-pitched vibrato, giving the appearance of effortlessness in an act of bravery, strength, and conviction that draws my own non-existent workout routine into question. There are tremendous voices, particularly from our third-act performer, whose voice reverberates throughout the entirety of The Irondale Center. And a special, guilty shout-out to the pair of, ahem, “able-bodied” male performers that perform one of the sultriest, erotic dances this side of the Mississippi.
I believe this is Company XIV’s first venture at The Irondale Center. And its trouble is its size. I wanted a cozier sense of seduction to wrap me in at Paris. And, in the balcony, I struggled with the sound, missing entire speeches of dialogue and wanting the volume to envelope me in the same surround-sound experience provided by the designers. Only noticeable in comparison to the rest of the perfection of the evening’s offerings, I suspect the sound design issue is either a growing pain or is better on the ground level.
You should definitely check out Company XIV. Their Nutcracker Rouge is coming up next. I’ll take two more seats and two more bottles of champagne, please.
(Paris plays at The Irondale Center, 85 South Oxford Street, Brooklyn through November 12, 2016. Performances are Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8. Tickets are $25 - $175 and are available at CompanyXIV.com or by calling 866-811-4111.)
Paris is conceived, choreographed, and directed by Austin McCormack. Text is by Jeff Takacs with additional text by Charlotte Bydwell. Set and Costume Design is by Zane Pihlstrom. Lighting Design is by Jeanette Yew. Sound Design is by Mark Van Hare. Production Stage Manager is Nataliya Vasilyeva.
The cast is Charlotte Bydwell, Todd Hanebrink, Lea Helle, Jakob Karr, Storm Marrero, Marcy Richardson, Randall Scotting, Nicole von Arx, Nicholas Katen, Mark Osmundsen, Cara Seymour and Taner Van Kuren.