by Grace Treston
Lady L’Amour’s Final Bow is proving itself a strong contender for Manhattan’s most versatile night out.
Walking the fine line between niche entertainment and mainstream theater, the team behind this burlesque performance has pinpointed its tone perfectly. As an interactive show, Lady L’Amour’s Final Bow aims in the right direction by not taking itself too seriously, all the while keeping standards sky-high.
Director Chad Austin’s risqué evening features a ‘murder mystery’ narrative; not unlike the cocktail party whodunits of old.
But the best thing about Lady L’Amour is that its writers, Christopher Sloan and Christian Davies, seem fully aware of the kitsch path that this kind of storyline can sometimes roll down – and the show runs with it, self-aware of its own on-the-nose fun.
The entire night is an experience in and of itself. From the moment you walk through Duane Park’s speakeasy-style entrance corridor and into the main event hall, you’re playing a part.
As a venue, Duane Park is beautiful. Pairing the room’s marbled décor with understated but deliberate lighting by Frances Rodriguez creates the perfect ambience for a sensual show with a dark twist.
Upon entering, guests are greeted with a house cocktail – you’ll want another of these concoctions, that’s for sure. All those in attendance are served nibbles as they wait to be seated by the impressively attentive staff, setting just the right opulent tone.
A personal highlight of mine is the moment that live music begins to swell, joined by the truly stunning vocals of Emily Braden to mark the beginning of the show. Feeling like an authentic Lower East Side evening paying homage to the city’s Prohibition era, the musicians’ charisma puts everyone at ease.
After all – we are performing too.
Fortunately, no matter where you’re seated at Duane Park, you’re bound to get a flick in the face from a dancer’s shawl, a quick caress across your shoulders, or a wink from someone on stage.
The casting can’t be faulted – even characters that are deliberately written as a tongue-in-cheek cliché manage to shine because of the actors behind them.
Gal Friday as Lady L’Amour is unsurprisingly brilliant. Anyone who has seen Gal’s previous performances will be glad to know that her charm and sexually-charged moves aren’t dampened one bit.
Together, the small cast manages to coax countless laughs from the audience; but the Maine Attraction steals your attention with just the lift of an eyebrow as the wise-cracking Champagne Noir. It’s not just good writing that gives the character of Champagne her advantage – Maine Attraction lives and breathes the sass of her role.
Jonathan Burwell as Mason Drew, the host of L’Amour’s last ever performance (foreshadowing at its best), does a great job as the needy and rather nervous MC.
Lady’s ex-husband and current manager Biff Johnson is played by Chris Krause, who portrays the crass and business-minded role with confidence.
Alongside strip-teasing legend Lady L’Amour is Penny Saint Claire, played by actor and burlesque star Tansy. The ditzy and glamourous Penny is the epitome of an airheaded beauty – and as Lady’s protégé, her dances on the night are just as raunchy.
Pearls Daily joins the cast as Cheryl, Lady’s downtrodden assistant. Moments of unexpected comic brilliance come from Cheryl throughout the show, thanks to Pearls’ ludicrous energy.
The burlesque dances peppered throughout the evening are superbly executed, and credit goes to the entire team for not sacrificing high-quality moves and carnal overtones for the sake of the comedy/mystery narrative.
The right balance of sex, laughter, and luxury is deftly captured at Lady L’Amour’s Final Bow. Audience members will find this intimate and creative evening very satisfying; and that’s without even considering the food served.
Compliments to the kitchen are deserved without a doubt, and the menu is surprisingly varied compared to what guests may be expecting.
Lady L’Amour’s Final Bow, on a whole, has cracked the code of throwing its net wide and catching a variety of interested audience members. Established couples and those on first dates; singletons of all ages; mature groups of friends; excited millennials celebrating a birthday – the show can cater for all.
Catch the next performance of Lady L’Amour’s Final Bow at Duane Park on February 13th. Tickets and more information are available at www.DuaneParkNYC.com
308 Bowery (between Bleecker and Houston St.) 212.732.5555