428 Lafayette St. between Astor Pl. & East Fourth St.
Thursday - Sunday through November 1, Le Galerie $65, Le Court $105
Austin McCormick’s Company XIV is inaugurating its intimate new home along Colonnade Row on Lafayette St. with Rococo Rouge, a Late Baroque-inspired evening of dance, music, acrobatics, sexy humor, and classy cocktails. The two-hour extravaganza is hosted by bawdy and buxom chanteuse Shelly Watson, who never met a double entendre she didn’t like, or an audience member she wouldn’t want to caress and grab. Channeling Bette Midler and Mae West, Watson riles up the crowd, telling jokes and expertly working the interstitials between the extravagantly costumed and elegant yet unusual acts. Performers include Allison Ulrich teaming with Steven Trumon Gray on the aerial hoop known as a lyra while Watson sings Dvořák’s “Song to the Moon”; the mustachioed Courtney Giannone twisting around on the Cyr wheel while Watson sings Rossini’s “La Danza”; soprano Brett Umlauf performing Lorde’s “Royals” while Davon Rainey, Cailan Orn, and Gray get down and dirty; Ulrich swinging around a pole while Umlauf, who has a lovely, ethereal voice, sings Julie London’s “Go Slow” with six-string virtuoso Rob Mastrianni on guitar; and Laura Careless dancing a sharp, striking solo while Katrina Cunningham sings Britney Spears’s “Toxic.” (Careless was also a standout in Company XIV’s Lover. Muse. Mockingbird. Whore., a burlesque play about Charles Bukowski and two of the women in his life.) Yes, it’s not all exactly from the time of Louis XIV, although Zane Pihlstrom’s gorgeous costumes, mostly in red with some black and white, reference bustiers and bustles, but there’s just too much fun to be had to worry about historical anachronisms and narrative lapses.
There are two intermissions, and the audience can either head into the front bar area, where Giannone might sit down at the piano and play some classical music (followed by her father, going the jump-and-jive route), or remain in the theater, where Mastrianni will do the entertaining. Among the specialty drinks ($14-$16 each) are the Opera Diva, the Maria Theresa, the Guillotine, and the Revolution, along with the Fountain of Versailles ($120), for “four to six drunkards.” Choreographed, conceived, and directed by McCormick, Rococo Rouge is a refreshing frolic through another time and place, an engaging spectacle that is like a French version of the Kit Kat Klub from Cabaret (without the dangerous edge) mixed with the variety of La Soirée. And everyone’s invited to stick around after the show, when bands such as Mastrianni’s Beatbox Guitar take the stage. Rococo Rouge runs Thursday to Sunday through November 1 and will be followed by Company XIV’s popular seasonal romp, Nutcracker Rouge.