Dita Von Teese
Saturday 5th March 2022
Yeah, I know, I rarely review theatre performances. I’ve been doing this blog for almost 12 years now and this is only my third stage show review (plus a couple of concerts in the music section). Guess what? That means it was really worth reviewing!
I’d heard of Dita Von Teese a decade or two ago and although I’d never really watched any footage of her performing, I was drawn to the idea of this character brought to ‘larger than life’ by one Heather Renée Sweet of Michigan, because I have a soft spot for Betty Page and love the idea of Burlesque performance. So a modern Queen Of Burlesque, as Ms. Teese is popularly and, frankly, accurately described... from what I’ve seen of her now in her wonderful new touring show Dita Von Teese - Glamonatrix... was something I was drawn to like, in the words of an old Friedrich Hollaender song, a moth toward a flame.
Well, I say it’s a new show and, yeah, it certainly is but, it’s more a continuation of one, or a continuation of a tour at any rate. I initially had tickets for this booked almost two and a half years ago now and was originally due to see one of her London shows from the tour around about this time in 2020. We all know what happened next... Covid scuppered a lot of plans and many of the things I’d planned to see that year (and the year after) were constantly being postponed and, in some cases, completely cancelled. But, yeah, we finally got the show and, well, it was certainly more than worth the wait... and much thanks to fellow fun fetishistas Teresa, Dave, Mariead and Rhodie for the cheery companionship.
Now, I’m going to give a brief run down... just a tease really... of the content of the show so anybody who reads this will have some idea of why it’s definitely worth grabbing a ticket if you can. However, I have to forewarn you that, at my age (aw heck... I’m only four years older than Dita), I tend to forget details like, in this case, the names of the majority of the performers (including the glorious compere). So other than Dita, there’s only one more name that I remember from the show (hey, she must have made an impression on me then) so, please forgive my use of such terms as ‘this guy’, ‘that gal’ etc as I go through this... cut me some slack here, my memory is not what it was and I can’t find any really useful information about the show I just saw a few days ago on the internet to refresh my memory, for some reason.
So, it’s been a while since I went ot the theatre (and even longer since I last set foot in the London Palladium... I used to be a bigger theatre goer in the 1970s and 80s, truth be told) ) but I do remember the old ‘no photography allowed’ style announcements on the PA system before the start of each show. So, okay, it’s here that I have to confess that, before I’d seen any of the performers... they had me hooked by the PA announcement. We get Dita’s appealing tones announcing the importance of not taking any photos or videos using phones or cameras... “scan us with your eyes, not with your devices” and then, a whole bunch of whistles and cat calls tells us just how we are permitted to react, as in, as noisily as possible, at the various acts in the show... “oh yeah, we like that!”
So that was an instant lesson in how you turn a cautionary warning promotion into a really nice intro to set the tone for the evening. I also decided to scan the performers with something more than my jaded eyes, truth be told... this is the first time I’ve ‘hired’ a set of those coin operated opera glasses from the back of the seats at a theatre for a very long time... when did the price go up from 10p to £1? Sometime between the early 1970s and now I guess.
And then we got an act by Dita which was... yeah, pretty good stuff, where she comes out of a cake and proceeds to advance to a state of prominent undress and then, if I’ve got the order right, we have the compere who, in the style of all good old Burlesque performances (or at least the versions I’ve seen on film of them over the years), was there to joke and play with the audience and to keep everyone warmed up and entertained while the debris and, as he put it, ‘diva droppings’ was removed from the stage area behind the curtain. And, I have to say, while he wasn’t subtle (quite deliberately and, subtle is a fine line in the world of Burlesque, I’m guessing... one person’s subtle is another person’s all you can eat buffet), he was really good at not being subtle and giving the audience an extraordinary time with his parts of the act... I’m pretty sure he could probably hold up his own show too, any time he wants to.
And then we had the various acts... both male and female (and often a mixture of the two) as Dita and a few co-stars performed various sexy routines for their audience. Dita herself was, of course, magnificent... stripping down to her undies and tasselated pasties as she flung herself around in various states of undress, each performance showcasing a different identity of her Burlesque personality... sometimes a whip wielding lion tamer, or a hot temptress (isn’t she always) riding a giant lipstick with fireworks going off on stage, being drawn by two subs in a golden coach into the centre of the stage and even taking a splashy bath in a giant Martini glass, using the big, green olive of a sponge to soak her body (and the stage, it was the last act) to the point where intersecting road signs on a motorway might well look to get together and describe her turn as... Dangerous Curves Ahead, Slippery When Wet.
And there were also other acts. A male pole dancer showed how athletic he was, as did a gentleman giving us his own... erm... take on the legend of Zorro. Then there was the girl in the hoop... I mean, that proposition alone should conjure up wild thoughts in your imagination and, frankly, the athletic prowess of a girl doing things with an oversized novelty hula hoop was pretty good and well received by this audience ‘member’. And there were many more... especially a show stopping, death defying, nipple tassle twirling act by the famous burlesque performer Dirty Martini, which was another turn that was worth the price of admission on its own.
And there we have it, I was absolutely enthralled by the shameless and scintillating shenanigans of Miss Von Teese and her co-stars and, I really hope she returns to these shores again sometime soon. I also hope she someday finds some time in her busy schedule to pen her memoirs at some point because, yeah, they are something I would dearly love to read. So, that’s me done, sadly, with Dita Von Teese - Glamonatrix but, I have nothing but praise for the production and it’s a big recommendation from me on this one. If you get the opportunity... go see it!