This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001

21Oct/16

PARIS!

(photo by Mark Shelby Perry)

Company XIV shows off its can-can-cans in latest immersive Baroque burlesque production (photo by Mark Shelby Perry)

The Irondale Center
85 South Oxford St. between Fulton St. & Lafayette Ave., Brooklyn
Monday to Saturday through November 12, $25 to $525
866-811-4111
companyxiv.com
www.irondale.org

It takes a while for Company XIV’s latest decadent Baroque burlesque extravaganza, Paris!, to get cooking, but once it does, it quickly goes from hot, hot, hot to sizzling. Troupe founder and director Austin McCormick, who has previously reimagined such fairy-tales as Cinderella, Pinocchio, and Snow White, revisits the myth of Paris and the golden apple, which Company XIV first tackled in its streamlined 2012 dance-theater-opera, Judge Me Paris. The company goes all out this time in its temporary new space, the Irondale Center in Fort Greene, which they have outfitted in Louis XIV grandeur, with ornate red velvet couches and chairs, numerous chandeliers, and costumed greeters welcoming you to the festivities. Before the show starts, you can walk around the main floor and the balcony, where some of the performers are getting ready and the heady enticements begin. The first act is surprisingly ordinary for Company XIV, offering little that is new as the emcee, the half-man, half-woman Zeus/Fifi (Charlotte Bydwell), introduces the story, in which the mortal shepherd Paris (Jakob Karr) must decide which of three goddesses — Venus (Storm Marrero), Pallas Athena (Marcy Richardson), or Juno (Randall Scotting) — deserves the golden apple. “My lovely goddesses! Your time has come,” Zeus announces. “Tighten your corsets, stuff your bustiers, dot your moles, and present your most delicious selves to our virginal judge. His ears are half-open, his eyes are half-closed, and his skin is untouched. . . . This young man wants much and it’s yours to give.” There’s a beautiful duet by Paris and Mercury (Todd Hanebrink) and a rather naughty sheep orgy, but things really start to hit their stride in the second act, as soprano Richardson dazzles the audience with unique versions of the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” and Adele’s “Skyfall” and performing breathtaking feats on the pole. Countertenor Scotting scores big with two songs by Handel and Leonard Cohen’s “I’m Your Man,” a very funny gender-twisting spoof. In the short third act, Marrero brings the house down with stirring renditions of Daughter’s “Youth” and Rihanna’s “Love on the Brain” as Paris makes his choice.

Venus (Marcy Richardson) reaches new heights in Company XIV’s PARIS (photo by Mark Shelby Perry)

Venus (Marcy Richardson) reaches new heights in Company XIV’s PARIS (photo by Mark Shelby Perry)

Over the last few years, while searching for a permanent home, Company XIV has performed at such venues as the Minetta Lane Theatre, 428 Lafayette St. across from the Public, and the 303 Bond Street Theatre in an abandoned warehouse in Brooklyn; they have found quite a treasure in the Irondale Center, formerly the auditorium of the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church, which they have outfitted in regal splendor. Throughout the tale, the ensemble of Nicole von Arx, Nicholas Katen, Mark Osmundsen, Cara Seymour, and Taner Van Kuren, wearing various body-revealing get-ups courtesy of the endlessly inventive Zane Pihlstrom, who also designed the set, dances in ever-changing configurations, mixing comic bits into their sexy numbers and occasionally making their way through the audience, where the patrons can order drinks and snacks all night long. (The actors also provide entertainment during the two intermissions, including a lovely flute and cello duet and a playful pregnancy vignette.) The relatively inconsequential text is by Jeff Takacs (with contributions from Bydwell), with fanciful lighting by Jeanette Yew. The emcee is repetitive and takes up too much time, but the rest of the characters excel as they go from group can-cans to intimate solos, duets, and trios. Director and choreographer McCormick limits the complex acrobatic elements of the troupe, focusing more on dance and song, like Martha Graham gone wild, and it works well here, after a slow start. Paris! runs through November 12 — tickets begin at $25 and go up to $525 for those VIPs who want to party like it’s 1699 — and will be followed by Company XIV’s annual holiday favorite, Nutcracker Rouge.

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