383 Troutman St., Bushwick
Wednesday - Sunday through October 31, $95 - $265
Company XIV founder and artistic director Austin McCormick outdoes himself with his latest baroque burlesque sensation, the decadently delightful Seven Sins. It’s so tailor-made for the extremely talented troupe that the only question is, what took them so long?
The company has previously staged outré cabaret adaptations of such fairy tales as Pinocchio, Cinderella, Snow White, and Queen of Hearts in addition to Paris! and the seasonal favorite Nutcracker Rouge. They now turn their attention to the original fairy tale itself, the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Serving as host for the evening is the Devil (a fab Amy Jo Jackson), all glammed out in horns, sequins, and heels. Shortly after Adam (portrayed alternately by Scott Schneider or Cemiyon Barber; I saw the former) arrives on Earth, he is joined by Eve (Danielle Gordon or Emily Stockwell; I saw Gordon) through a bit of magic, leading to a lovely duet that incorporates contemporary dance and classical ballet to Dean Martin’s rendition of “If You Were the Only Girl in the World.” Temptation threatens in the form of a long snake carried aloft by several performers; Adam and Eve are offered a glittering red apple, feel shame in their (near-)nakedness, and cover their naughty bits with fig leaves to Paul Anka singing “Adam and Eve.”
In the next two acts, they encounter Vanity, Wrath, Lust, Jealousy, Sloth, Greed, and ultimately Gluttony, each sin getting its own scene involving dance, acrobatics, and/or song, all bursting with an intense sexuality and a wicked sense of humor. The music includes original songs by Lexxe along with classical instrumentals, opera, and tunes by Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, Nancy Sinatra, Cab Calloway, Florence and the Machine, Cardi B, the Beatles, and others. Pretty Lamé lets loose with a pair of gorgeous arias, while the awe-inspiring Marcy Richardson struts her stuff in an aerial cage and on a swinging pole and Troy Lingelbach and Nolan McKew dangle over the audience on a double lyra.
There are multiple ways to see the show, which is staged in Théâtre XIV in Bushwick, where the sexy baroque motif extends to the two bars and every nook and cranny. There are bar chairs, petite chairs, couches, small tables, and deluxe tables where patrons are served food and drink by the performers within the narrative. The set and costumes are by the awesomely inventive Zane Pihlström, with sensual lighting by Jeanette Yew and mischievous makeup by Sarah Cimino. Conceived, choreographed, and directed by McCormick, who also curated the special cocktail menu, Seven Sins encompasses all the best parts of Company XIV, immersing the audience in a lush and lascivious fantasy world where anything can happen. It does lose a bit of its momentum with two intermissions — the total running time is about two hours and fifteen minutes — and there are no bawdy vaudeville-like acts during the breaks, as there have been at previous shows of theirs. But let him/her/them who is without sin cast the first stone. And don’t be surprised if you experience all seven sins yourself during this fantabulous evening.