As by music, as by a Rhine wine,
You cradle us and we are consoled,
And sorrow expires with a pout in your crimson fold . . .
Let a greater one, Goethe or Will, write you a classic line.
Paul Verlaine’s poem is doubtless close to the heart of his namesake, the divine Ms. Lily Verlaine. I am certainly no Goethe or Shakespeare, but I am certainly a devoted follower of her work. Along with her partner Jasper McCann, she has produced some of the most interesting burlesque shows in Seattle over the past few years. From Land Of The Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker and Through The Looking Glass: The Burlesque Alice In Wonderland to the recent Nightcap, Ms. Verlaine and Mr. McCann have been hard at work redefining a new Northwest aesthetic in the world of burlesque. And with extraordinary sucess. Everyone of their events I’ve attended has played to a sold-out house.
Now in the late summer heat, they have assembled their latest concoction, Burlesco Divino: Wine in Rome. In this “spectacle of ecdysiastic pageantry,” as Ms. Verlaine dubs it, performers from around Seattle engage in a ritual celebration of wine, beauty, and frivolity across time in that other city that’s built on seven hills.
True to their reputation as the storytellers of the local burlesque scene, Burlesco Divino’s producers have created a clever framing story for the event. The show divides into two acts: in the first, set in the time of the Roman Empire, the story deals with three priestesses during a harvest celebration who invoke and summon Bacchus, the God of Wine (played by Luminous Pariah); in the second, set in Rome’s swinging Sixties, the story concerns an intrepid America reporter named Babs Lawson, who is determined to get a an exclusive scoop by being the first to photograph a certain reclusive socialite named Donatella Bianchi (played by Ms. Verlaine herself).
As eclectic as ever, the show spans genre as well as time. The music runs from ancient to modern as well. Priestesses, paparazzi, Vespa-girls, and fashionistas all take their turn in the spotlight, wearing the costumes of brilliant designer, Danial Hellman. The dance styles too are diverse: belly dance, go-go, ballet, and the audience-pleasing striptease will all be on display.
Featuring Lily Verlaine and the studly Jasper McCann, the cast also includes burlesque superstars Inga Ingénue, Trojan Original, The Luminous Pariah, and Paris Original, with a corps de burlesque of rising stars. With music and fine Rhine wine (it is after all, the month of Riesling, I hear) Burlesco DiVino: Wine In Rome promises to be another fine entry in the accomplishments of Ms. Verlaine and Mr. McCann, and a truly bacchanalian pleasure.
Burlesco DiVino: Wine In Rome runs August 21-24 for seven shows at The Triple Door. Tickets are $30-$38. Visit The Triple Door’s website for details.
Omar Willey was born at St. Frances Cabrini Hospital in Seattle and grew up near Lucky Market on Beacon Avenue. He believes Seattle is the greatest city on Earth and came to this conclusion by travelling much of the Earth. He is a junior member of Lesser Seattle and, as an oboist, does not blow his own trumpet. Contact him at omar [at] seattlestar [dot] net