Burlesque and fairy tales got more interesting after Lily Verlaine and Jasper McCann took a road trip.
The performers took off from their homes in Seattle in 2008 to visit relatives and friends in the Midwest. Along the way, a stage show that blended vintage burlesque with a classic children's story was born.
"We'd done the Nutcracker burlesque in 2006 for a couple years and decided we wanted to change the theme," McCann said. "So when we took our 5,000-mile-road trip to the Midwest, we decided to read to each other instead of working crosswords."
One of the stories they read to each other was Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and voila, a burlesque version of Alice's fantastical journey was born.
The musical called Through the Looking Glass: The Burlesque Alice in Wonderland will make a stop on its Northwest tour starting Oct. 24 at the Power House Theatre in Walla Walla. Additional performances are Oct. 25-28.
"It's really a beautiful palette to work with," Verlaine said of the blending of risqué with naivety. "Comedy and satire go with burlesque, and there's a bit of both in Alice."
Despite the Alice in Wonderland theme of this musical tale, it's not for everyone. There'll be your typical burlesque tour de force packed with glamour, comedy, dance and striptease in the classic style of Gypsy Rose Lee.
Since the '90s, paradoxical modern retro queens have been surfacing in cultural hubs such as New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, and today professional dancers mirror the vaudevillian variety performances of their early 20th century idols, Verlaine said.
Verlaine plays the caterpillar as well as the Red Queen. She was an original member of the Atomic Bombshells and has performed in Europe, Asia and the U.S.
She studied at the San Francisco Ballet, and in 2001 earned a bachelor's from the University of Minnesota. She serves as the artistic director for the Alice show and held the same position for Land of the Sweets, The Burlesque Nutcracker.
McCann touts himself as a jack-of-all-trades that includes performer, musician and writer.
Most of his show business career has been as an instrumental and vocal musician. He has emceed events for such philanthropic groups as the Artists Trust, Sunflower Children and Treehouse4kids. He's also the emcee of the international touring company Atomic Bombshells, where he met Verlaine.
McCann is co-producing the burlesque shows and also is the playwright and lyricist for the Nutcracker show.
The rest of the Alice cast members, all from Seattle, have stage names as wild and crazy as the costumes and makeup of the show.
There's Inga Ingenue and Lou Henry Hoover sharing the role of Alice; Indigo Blue as the Mad Hatter, Tiger Lily and The Duchess; Kitten LaRue as the White Queen and Queen of Hearts; Waxie Moon as the Cheshire Cat and Cook; and Babette LaFave as Jabberwocky, a Tweedle sister and Cook.
Tickets cost $15 to $50 and are available at www.phtww.com or by calling 509-529-6500.
*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; firstname.lastname@example.org