REVIEW: The Lakeside Stage provided the perfect setting for the sensual - in every sense of the word - Birds of Paradise, cabaret burlesque show.
As darkness fell, Turtle Lake took on a mystical, glassy appearance in front of a backdrop of under-lit trees and Victorian ornithologist Ms Mmm arrived at the stage by rowboat to observe a group of tui.
The tui were in fact the company of graceful, lithe dancers who took on the mannerisms of our native birds impeccably. Strutting, leaping and dancing across the stage, they immediately had we, the audience in the palm of their hands...er...talons.
Ms Mmm was our guide through this feathery safari and was played by Morag Magnolia Brownlie, a woman I am now in great awe of, not only for her fabulous name, but for the fact that as well as taking the leading role, she also produced, directed, wrote, designed and choreographed the show.
Her many years of being involved in theatre, dance and the NZ World of Wearable Arts have left her with an immense talent for producing beautiful, moving, funny and entrancing pieces of theatre. A performer with great professionalism and charisma, she dealt well with the few small music cue issues.
Described as a romantic birdlesque comedy, we were privy to the rituals of courtship of both the avian and homosapien varieties.
Performing duo, trio and group choreographies to crowd pleasing modern pop songs as well as lyrical, original compositions by Sean James Donnelly, the company of dancers enthralled, entertained and moved the audience, which except for the rowdy table of local burlesque beauties up the front, came across almost as Victorian as Ms Mmm. Extremely polite and quiet, although clearly enjoying every moment of the show, interaction between the audience and the charming Ms Mmm was, as typical in Hamilton, challenging.
Comedic actor James Crompton was spot on as explorer David Attenborough and the chemistry between Crompton and Brownlie sweet perfection.
Singer Caitlin Smith's husky, gorgeous voice was a most enjoyable addition to the dance and comedy and Seonaid Lyons stood out amongst the dancers for her musicality and stage presence.
Cuban hunk, Vivio Ramos was also a delight, especially for yours truly who got to shake her tail feather on stage with this beautiful specimen of birdman.
The most moving and mesmerising part of the show came towards the end with the White Heron pas de deux between dancers Mike Holland and Georgie Goater. Sensual, romantic, passionate and leaving you with a sigh in your heart one moment before making you giggle with glee at their antics the next, they were without a doubt, our table's favourite.
The icing on this delicious cupcake of feathery fantasy were the costumes.
Designers such as Trelise Cooper, Sophia Lee and Flo Foxworthy made the dancers sparkle even brighter and fly through the air with even greater ease.
Seeing the cast high five each other at the conclusion of the show ended our night perfectly. They are rightly pleased with their amazing production and I look forward to the next of Brownlie's productions.
Bettsy Rose Lee is a Glamilton burlesque artist and former Miss Burlesque NZ.
- © Fairfax NZ News