Review: Exhibition (Les Coquettes)

Sexy and sinful, Les Coquettes bring top notch cabaret burlesque to Toronto’s The Revival Bar with Exhibition

I don’t need an excuse to fill with my life with sexy, sensuous and scantily clad ladies and gents, song and dance, and tongue and cheek, with dashes of aerial artistry and plenty of good humor. No excuse needed because, really, why deny yourself pleasure? That being said, Halloween has always been the best reason to indulge in anything.

And so it was with great delight that I sought out what the lovely lads and gals of Les Coquettes had to offer this time around for their spooky yearly tradition in the form of “Exhibition“. Having attended a previous performance of theirs, I had a feeling I wouldn’t be disappointed.

My guest for the evening, Vance – an actor friend hailing from Vancouver, considered himself a bit of a connoisseur of burlesque and cabaret. Though he did say his experiences watching amateur burlesque in Toronto left him with much to desire, he became my first choice to invite along to the Les Coquettes show in hopes that his second taste would outshine the last.

Not long after we took our seats did the show begin to the familiar theme from Pirates of the Caribbean. The troupe, properly attired in seafaring garb, drew our attention to the back of the theatre and to the bar top where they dazzled the crowd with a sexy dance routine featuring a number of frames before taking the stage.

La Minouche took the stage, our mistress of ceremonies for the evening, eager to welcome the well-packed house and explain the nature of the night’s festivities. The theme for the evening was erotic art brought to life – artifacts from her ancestor’s legacy cursed to reanimate by the light of the full moon.

One of the best parts of a Les Coquettes show is how well the team uses their venue of choice. The Revival is a great venue for them at just the right size allowing them to perform off the bar, off the back balcony, in among the crowd and even suspended from the ceiling directing the audience’s attention all around. It all becomes a highly engaging and interactive show and, if you happen to be sitting near the aisle when La Minouche makes her rounds, be prepared to receive more than the price of admission.

What Vance found pleasantly surprising was how much more the show was than just simple burlesque. I reminded him that the focus was more on cabaret and he was greatly enthused by it. What also caught his attention (and definitely mine as well) was how this wasn’t just a ladies’ show and the “man props” were more than just, well, props and performed stunningly on their own.

Cases in point included the human mannequin scene between The Bodyshop and The Carpenter; the hilariously cheeky Emperor’s New Clothes scene that featured Dew Lily parading around swinging a well placed single tassel as he mimed the removal of clothing much to the gawking awkwardness of his attendants; and of course the jaw-dropping, cat call-worthy bar-top carpenter scene featuring each of the man-props. Fun for everyone.

But aside from a slew of pretty faces and gorgeous bodies to happily stare at, the Les Coquettes ensemble possess great talents. A pet peeve that Vance possessed when it came to burlesque were troupes that chose to lip-synch rather than singing live – a peeve I was surprised he had considering all the best troupes I’ve seen could also sing their hearts out. This was no exception as Lilli Bubalotovich wowed the crowd with her rendition of Lady Gaga’s Americano and Dante Inferno lead the ladies in a Marie Antoinette themed ruffles and coy version of Lorde’s Royals.

Accolades of the evening have to go to Coco Framboise, a guest to the Les Coquettes‘ ensemble and deemed one of the best cabaret performers Toronto has to offer for due reason. Her Cleopatra scene was remarkably stunning. Her slow and sensual attention to detail in her reveal made her performance. Though the main highlight had to be Suki Tsunami – who’s quickly turning into my favorite member of the troupe – and her spectacular Native-themed aerial hoop routine that capped off the evening.

Outside the club after the show, the long and winding line for the evening’s next performance had already formed. With barely a water break in between, the troupe would be ready to hit the stage again. Now that’s intense.

With two more performances left on Halloween night, be sure to make your appearance being properly outfitted in costume, there’ll be prizes for the best one. And of course, if you haven’t considered it yet, it’s time to make Les Coquettes part of your own sexy Halloween tradition.

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Photo by Ryan Visima provided by the company.

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