Dance revue 'iCandy Burlesque' short of actual burlesque


Eye candy? Yes indeed. No false-advertising issues (unless they are with Apple) for "iCandy Burlesque," a dance revue full of sparsely clad ladies (plus one dude) easy on the photoreceptor cells.

And if you really want to stretch a metaphor, you can say this show is more cotton candy than jawbreaker: so ephemeral it quickly dissolves into a wash of stockings, heels, bustiers and red fedoras.

If I wasn't taking notes, there would only be song clues to aid morning-after recall: "It's A Man's Man's Man's World" had the ladies in men's dress shirts with briefcases. "Poker Face" started off at a card table.

But here's the difference between eye candy and real candy: with real candy, you never have to ask "Why?"

That's a hard question for three-fourths of the shows on the Strip. And here, it's especially difficult to divide a review of strictly the product onstage from other aspects of this job, which delve into a show's commercial prospects.

Either way, you can't ignore the elephant in this theater: Will anyone care about a late-night "burlesque" show that isn't topless? Especially one competing with those that are? Is it like drinking nonalcoholic beer: all the belches and flatulence, none of the buzz?

This one is strapped into bras and corsets - and occasional black-tape "X's" - because the Saxe Theater's retail mall location does not fall under either a unrestricted gaming license or a county license for an adult cabaret.

A deal-breaker? That's for each individual, and the marketplace, to decide. I do see that no-alcohol brew on the shelves, so someone must buy it. If there is a hidden audience for whom nudity offends but lingerie doesn't, producer Nannette Barbera has delivered a slick, pretty and well-assembled vehicle.

Barbera is a veteran theme park and casino producer who for whatever reason hasn't done a lot of work in Las Vegas. An earlier version of "iCandy" played as a Tropicana lounge show late last year, and just didn't work in that setting.

But here, on a generous stage, she shows her knack for lighting, coordinated costuming and transitions: Even stand-up comedian Kathleen Dunbar is integrated into the theme and flow.

The word "burlesque" carries a big umbrella on the Strip, so only purists will quibble with the absence of actual striptease numbers here. A gymnastic pole dance from the athletic Jenny Romas (who competed as half of the acrobatic Mario and Jenny on "America's Got Talent" in 2009) is a good start.

"Burlesque" in this title draws inspiration and most of its songs from the 2010 movie of the same name. Again, you could question the business wisdom of hitching your wagon to a flick that didn't make back its budget on domestic release. At least the soundtrack album was a hit.

The marketing challenge - there I go again - will be to shift the focus to the challenging, athletic choreography and strong vocals (to recorded backing) from not one but three lovely singers: Jaime Lynch (who competed on "The X Factor"), Felice Garcia (likewise on "The Voice") and Elisa Furr.

The show may be missing bare breasts, but there is no shortage of belting. The three overlap enough in sound and even physical appearance that it's fun when they surround the audience to deliver Christina Aguilera's "Bound to You" from two aisles and the stage.

But elsewhere, the three teaming on the chestnut "Let Me Entertain You" makes you wish the song list strayed more often from over-the-top drama-pop.

Call me old-fashioned (I prefer "retro") but seeing cult queen Bettie Page in the pre-show video raised false hopes that this song-and-dance package would be a bit more, well, burlesque: slinkier, not to mention naughtier.

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.

 

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