383 Troutman St., Bushwick
Thursday - Sunday through November 2, $85 - $435 (VIP Champagne couch for two)
Company XIV heats up an already scorching summer with the smokin’ hot Queen of Hearts, continuing at the wildly talented troupe’s new home in Bushwick through November 2. This time company founder Austin McCormick, who previously helmed baroque burlesque adaptations of such fairy tales as Cinderella and Snow White, turns his attention to Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in a sexy, immersive production most definitely not suitable for children. The Troutman St. space has been transformed into a posh cabaret with a chandelier tree, an old-fashioned bar, and flashy decorations. Attendees sit in comfy chairs or couches for two, as company members make their way through the crowd, bantering with the audience.
All Carroll’s characters are here, just not as you’ve ever seen them before, gussied up in spectacularly raunchy, revealing costumes by Zane Pihlstrom, who also designed the set, and with fab makeup by Sarah Cimino: the alluring Alice (LEXXE), the body-rocking White Rabbit (Michael Cunio), the Caterpillar/Butterfly (Lilin Lace), the dashing Mad Hatter (Marcy Richardson), Tweedledee & Tweedledum (Nicholas Katen and Ross Katen), the Dormouse (Nolan McKew), the juggling Flamingo (Jacoby Pruitt), two Cheshire Cats (Jourdan Epstein and Ryan Redmond), and, of course, the Queen of Hearts (Storm Marrero). The cast also features Ashley Dragon on cyr wheel doing “Eat Me,” Làszlò Major on the pole proclaiming, “Drink Me,” and Ian Spring, Sam Urdang, and rehearsal director Allison Schuster rounding out the ensemble.
Conceived, directed, and choreographed with endless flair by McCormick, Queen of Hearts has a glorious, dark, decadent look hearkening to both Weimar cabaret and Aubrey Beardsley–style graphics. The show boasts more than thirty songs, some sung live by the characters, others recordings by familiar artists. LEXXE taunts us with the original “Blue,” Richardson tantalizes with Tears for Fears’ “Mad World,” Cunio belts out Tom Waits’s “Yesterday Is Here,” and Marrero shakes the building to its foundations with several treats, along with classics by Tom Jones, Perry Como, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Rossini, and Tchaikovsky (and Natalia Kills, the Weeknd, Rihanna, Beyoncé, and, of course, Jefferson Airplane). The acrobatics are awesome, particularly a duet by McKew and Richardson, and Jeannette Yew’s lighting is sultry. There is a sly humor throughout, from magic mushrooms and can-can playing cards to a great use of the back curtain and, well, a bunch of male phalluses. The two-and-a-half-hour extravaganza has two intermissions, so you can get more drinks and snacks at the bar or remain in your seats and watch some bonus entertainment. You’re also encouraged to stick around after for further beverages and a chance to mingle with the cast.