By MIKE CHAIKEN
Scrooge was never quite like this.
But then again, he never hung out with a cast of characters quite like the ones who populate Burlesque-A-Pades’s “Holiday Spectacular!”
In this burlesque performance, led by one of the leading lights of the art form, Angie Pontani (from the famous Pontani Sisters), the troupe takes on a performance full of the festive spirit of the season.
This burlesque take on holiday frivolity arrives at Bridge Street Live in Collinsville on Dec. 6.
In a phone interview, while taking a break from sewing the spectacular costumes that will grace the stage for “Holiday Spectacular!” Pontani said the holidays have never been absent from winter performances of Burlesque-A-Pades. There have been some holiday flavored bits in their show through the years. But this time around, they have taken this focus on the winter wonderland celebrations a bit deeper.
For this particular tour, Pontani said the show is “lightly flavored” by the spirit of Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol.”
In this particular case, the show follows the troupe’s own “Scrooge,” host and magician Albert Cadabra. Apparently, Pontani said, Cadabra isn’t in the Christmas spirit.
Through the use of dance routines and comedic skits, and even a visit from Tiny Tim, Pontani said the cast tries to cajole their “Scrooge” out of his sour demeanor.
“It’s really festive with big production numbers,” said Pontani of “Holiday Spectacular.”
As Burlesque-A-Pades pulls together its assorted shows, Pontani said the group typically looks back, back, back, to the heyday of burlesque for inspiration. So, they will look at old videos of the original bits by the pioneers of the art form. They’ll pick up some of the timeless jokes, although they will reshape them a bit to fit the particular theme of the show. For “Holiday Spectacular!” the jokes definitely reflect the festive spirit of this time of year. (Although they will stay true to the spirit of the original gags, Pontani said Burlesque-A-Pades will edit them a bit to reflect the shorter attention spans of contemporary audiences.)
When Pontani and crew arrive in Collinsville on Dec. 6, this won’t be the first time Burlesque-A-Pades had been to Connecticut, or even Bridge Street Live. They are repeat customers in a state that loves its burlesque.
And it’s a love that is mutual.
“I love Connecticut crowds,” said Pontani. “We started (playing in Connecticut) at Café 9 (in New Haven). They were so great to us. It was such a good time. We decided to expand in the market.”
And that brought them to Collinsville. “We love Bridge Street Live,” said Pontani. “It’s a different crowd than Café 9. But they’re really super fun and they get into it and have a great time.”
Pontani said that even when Burlesque-A-Pades rolls into a venue for a second or third time, they try to offer up something different from their last performance. They’re not interested in presenting the same-old, same-old.
But, although the content may change, Pontani said fans still will see some of the familiar faces such as Albert Cadabra, Mane Attraction, and Pontani’s sister Helen. Furthermore, Pontani said, fans will always find the shows adhere to a similar template. There will be comedy, a big production number, magic, and some tap dancing.
Pontani has been dubbed the reigning queen of burlesque, winning Miss Exotic World in 2008. Asked what continues to stir her passions about the art form, Pontani said, “You’re always working on something new.” And there’s always an effort to improve upon what has been done before, she said. So this means, she said there’s never an opportunity to lose interest.
“You’re always striving to grow, and grow as an artist,” said Pontani.
Additionally, Pontani said, “We travel so much.”
“It never gets boring.”
For anyone looking to enter the world of burlesque, Pontani offered a little advice.
“If you want to do it, and do it seriously, be committed to it,” said Pontani. “It’s a ton of work.”
Growing up, said Pontani, her parents had their own business. And they were always working hard to make it flourish. This rubbed off on their daughter who strives to adhere to the same work ethic.
As a burlesque performer, said Pontani, she has to stay on top of everything associated with it, including managing the tours, creating the costumes, maintaining the website, etc.
“This is a very difficult but fabulous job,” said Pontani. And if you want to enter the world of burlesque, she said, “You really have to want to do it.”
What it boils down to, said Pontani, “If you want to succeed, you have to work.”
Burlesque-A-Pades’s “Holiday Spectacular!” comes to Bridge Street Live!, 41 Bridge St., Collinsville on Friday, Dec. 6 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $17 and $27.
For more information, go to 41BridgeStreet.com or AngiePontani.com
By MIKE CHAIKEN