Weekly Volcano Blogs: Walkie Talkie Blog

April 14, 2014 at 2:00pm

Words & Photos: Gritty City Sirens burlesque troupe presents "Adventures in Oz" in Tacoma

Cowardly Lion scares the crap out of Dorothy and her friends. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

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Pasties and butt cheeks and hip-hop Toto, oh my!

The setup

Expect all three - and more titillating fun - in The Gritty City Sirens' Adventures in Oz, a Wizard of Oz-inspired burlesque production at the Temple Theater Ballroom Saturday, April 19.

I caught a full dress run of Tacoma's burlesque troupe's largest production to date Sunday afternoon. Sadness leaving the sunshine for a dark theater soon disappeared.

This Tacoma makeover of L. Frank Baum's classic may be campy, but it still follows the famous Dorothy down the Yellow Brick Road where she hooks up with the tie-wearing Scarecrow, sexy Tin Man and the fur-donning Cowardly Lion and gains enough confidence as a showgirl to defeat the Wicked Witch of the West. Along the way, there are some eye-popping burlesque, pole dancing, dance numbers and zaniness by the likes of Lusty Zins, Bettie Klondike, Rosie Cheex as Glinda, Heather Hostility as the Wicked Witch, Ava D Jor as the Cowardly Lion and Polly Pucker Up as Dorothy. Toto, in this scenario, takes the form of a hip-hop bboy. The production is necessarily short on suspense, since you know it so well, but delivers with a strong theatrical impact, inventive soundtrack, remarkable performances and hilarious moments.

The one-night only performance benefits the Carol Milgard Breast Center.

The Road

My Yellow Brick Road experience was the troupe's final dress rehearsal, and I kept one foot in such. Often the action would halt on the road, with new instructions or a quick brainstorm session. Also, it would be a shame to spoil the gags and one-liners, so I won't.

The show opens with Tacoma singer-songwriter Heidi "Bunny Holiday" Stoermer and accordionist Tony Hanson setting the stage for a night of wonderful music.

"Yes, we thought ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow' was kind of a no-brainer, so we auditioned with that one and the second song, ‘Until the Real Thing Comes Along.' Toby and I couldn't settle on a closing number, so we composed the final song just for the show," says Stoermer. It works.

Hattie Hotpants from TUSH burlesque in Olympia plays the Great and Powerful Mistress of Oz. The emcee for the Olympia burlesque troupe, Hotpants keeps the laughs and flow rolling in this show. She's quick, and it pays off when there's a Munchkin mishap or skin exposed.

The story basically follows the original Oz, except the story opens with Dorothy receiving a makeover, saddled by her faithful, hip-hop dog Toto, played by Tacoma's favorite gallery owner/DJ.

Since a windstorm would ruin the inventive costumes, Noelle Wood, owner of Tacoma's pole dance school Poledello, and her equally amazing student who is "the calm before the storm", whips up the tornado around a pole. The entire cast of 26 gets swept up in the whirlwind, which includes a little Daft Punk circling about.

You know what happens when Dorothy and Toto land in another land, the Lollipop Guild busts out moves to a club beat, the Lullaby league toss hula hoops and Glinda the Good Witch of the North takes it all to the music of Willie Dixon.

Sure enough, the Scarecrow takes off her rags, the Tin Man sheds the metal and the Cowardly Lion - receiving big laughs - disrobes the fur.

No one will sleep during the dance of the Poppies.

And ... then ... there are the monkeys. If you know Tacoma music and ballet, you'll instantly recognize these three zany characters who provide non-stop energy and laughs.

Music from Queens of the Stone Age, Goldfrapp, N.E.R.D., Louis Prima and others mix with snippets of the original Oz soundtrack, and the Wicked Witch of the West stripping to music by the Voodoo Organist is brilliant.

Yes, even sweet little Dorothy hurls her clothing to Toto offstage. 

I've said too much. I'll probably have to face the wrath of those freakin' monkeys.

The Verdict

In all, it will be an excellent night of twirling tassels and bawdy jokes. (Insert your own Kansas joke here.)

GRITTY CITY SIRENS' ADVENTURES IN OZ, 7 p.m., Saturday, April 19, Temple Theatre Ballroom, 47 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma, $25, Ticketmaster

LINK: More photos of Gritty City Sirens' Adventures in Oz

Filed under: Arts, Music, Tacoma, Sex, Theater,
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