Remember that saying back in the day? Or maybe the phrase is still part of your vocabulary. Either way, if it rings a bell, it’s a sure sign you grew up in the 1990s.
Sudbury Burlesque presents two shows on April 19 and 20 that are sure to evoke the same kind of nostalgia.
It starts at the Grand Night Club at 7 p.m. with Too Legit to Strip, a salute to the 1990s complete with soap opera and talk show parodies, bright costumes and bangin’ music, followed by Pot Pop Up Party at 10 a.m. at Coyotes, a retro-rock cannabis-themed show featuring bar-top dancers, stand-up comedy and the band Supertoke. Guests are encouraged to turn back the clock and dress like they were still living in the era.
If you haven’t been to a burlesque show yet, this is the perfect opportunity to try it out, says the troupe’s co-founder.
Burlesque is equal parts variety show, striptease and satire. Started by husband and wife team Colin Eady and Jessica Crowe in 2012, the couple set out to bring the performance art to Sudbury, while hoping to diversify entertainment options here.
“We didn’t even know what we were doing when we started,” said Crowe, who goes by the stage name Dolce Tetas. “It was very underground.”
Shows were held at the Fromagerie, but as the troupe welcomed new members, audiences grew and so did the need for a larger venue. Crowe counted 600 people for the group’s last Halloween-themed show, Monster’s Ball, held at the Grand Night Club. She said Sudbury Burlesque now boasts an enhanced audience experience with multimedia, professional lighting and “much better sound.”
“The workload is a lot heavier now,” laughed Crowe. “So we’ve decided to focus on two to three shows a year, which is a lot for us because we start preparing months before.”
Too Legit to Strip and Pot Pop Up Party feature 23 local entertainers along with visiting guest performers Kitty Kin-Evil of Ottawa, Gigi Marx of Montreal and Tosca Cyr of Los Angeles.
“It’s important to have these entertainers here because they make us step up our game and we learn so much from them,” said Crowe.
While burlesque may not be everyone’s cup of tea, the group has managed to expand its reach by introducing dinner shows and using larger venues.
“We’ve done a good job knowing what our audiences in Sudbury like,” she said.
Crowe said this month’s show would be ideal for newbies. Too Legit to Strip “is just campy and fun” and Crowe is proud her troupe consists of men and women of all shapes and sizes, who have performed across the continent, from New York City and Toronto to Vermont and Seattle.
“They are really putting Sudbury on the map,” said Crowe who nowadays spends more time behind the scenes producing the show than on stage.
“I love creating,” she said. “That is my focus these days rather than performing. I’m slowly trying to take a step back” to spend more time producing and promoting the shows.
All entertainers are paid for their involvement in Sudbury Burlesque and most, like Crowe, consider themselves multidisciplinary artists.
“There is so much work involved,” she said. “Just like being in a theatre production, there are long rehearsals, hours spent learning your lines at home. But in burlesque, you are also responsible for your own costume, concept and music.”
Spending 20 to 30 hours beading a costume is the norm, she said. It’s no wonder that leading up to the show, burlesque performers, just like other entertainers, experience much stress.
“You have created the show yourself, and then you put everything out there for people to judge, plus you’re naked,” said Crowe. “There is high anxiety associated with being so vulnerable on stage.”
Burlesque members encourage and “pump each other up.” Then, within eight minutes (the duration of a typical act), it’s all over.
“When the event is successful and with everyone living their truth on stage, it’s worth it,” said Crowe. “You are creating a moment in time. When it’s over, that’s the payoff. And then I want to do it again.”
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If you go
Too Legit to Strip, 90s Burlesque Show
April 19 and 20
7 p.m. Grand Night Club
Tickets $35 available through Eventbrite
Pot Pop Up Party
April 19 and 20
10 p.m., Coyotes Lounge and Nightclub
Tickets $25 available through Eventbrite