The Underpants Show is a misnomer. I saw panties, scanties, g-strings, hip-frills, thigh-highs, and garter belts galore, but nothing I would really identify as underpants. Of course, underpants is really a nod to the shows Midwestern setting, and the Lilis Burlesque Revue gang (thats what this show is called when its not Fringe) milk the tension between Midwest and (nearly) bare breast for all its worth. Theres a lot of Oh, gee! innocence to the peel-down patter, which plays surprisingly well, especially in a blinkingly blue monologue delivered by Funny Bunny, in which (lets just say) one word gets substituted for another with hilarious results. Our hostess, Nadine Dubois, also has a girl-next-door charm, exclaiming Did you know that was me? after shes done a striptease in a wig (and while shes still wearing her silver pasties).
But the Underpants people are no amateurs. Starting from the dancehall swing of their band, the Gilded Lilies, and an Andrews Sisters-type rendition of the Strip Polka, Lilis Burlesque Revue rolls out the talent, and it keeps coming: in the form of Ophelia Flame, she of the glittery shoes and amazing legs; Sweetpea, with her breathtaking hourglass figure and her equally breathtaking motor booty; more lovely singing (including a version of I Fall to Pieces featuring, yes, a tear-away dress), more stripping, and a few sweet novelty acts.
This is a tight, fun show, and I suggest seeing it as a post-cocktail reward after putting yourself through whatever grueling theater experience your Fringe-frenzied friends have insisted you just cant miss.
Postmodern burlesque does call forth a confusion that will surely be studied in some cultural studies Ph.D. dissertation. I have to say that, no matter how many odd little lingerie items these women toss off in the course of a routine, Im never really prepared for the pasties. Why? Theres something so vulnerable, so unscripted about real breasts. And make no mistake, these are the real thing--cage-free and free-range; they dont have the pumped and plastic pec look of HBO or Hollywood breasts. When theyre unveiled, the whole male gaze/self-objectification/girl power/femininity mess goes into overdrive. (I understand some viewers have no such reaction. To them, I can only say, "Keep hooting, guys.") This isnt a complaint. Instead, its a tension that I hope the postmodern burlesquers will find some way to address.
What: The Underpants Show by Lili's Burlesque
Where: The Ritz Theater, Minneapolis, MN
When: July 31, August 3, 5, 9 & 10 (click here for specific performance times)
Admission: $12 (plus a $3 Fringe button)
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