Review: Where’s the Beef? (Les Coquettes)

Toronto burlesque troupe Les Coquettes presented Where’s the Beef at the Revival Bar. The show ran from early to mid-June on two consecutive Sundays.

The theme of the night was the Eighties. In addition to the opening number, fourteen more songs from the Eighties were set to often-lascivious choreography.

The crowd arrived just as Where’s the Beef was to begin – nine thirty on a Sunday night – delaying the beginning a bit. But the lateness was not for a lack of enthusiasm or interest. The capacious Revival, where I had been nearly alone, was soon filled to standing room only.

The opening number, set to Stevie Nicks’ “Edge of Seventeen” and featuring at least a dozen performers in form-fitting fabrics, got shouts, whistles and generally thunderous applause. Shortly afterwards the master of ceremonies introduced herself: “My name is La Minouche,” she said, “which is French for pussy.” Then adding after a pause, “cat.”

Early in Act Two – Where’s the Beef was broken up by an intermission – there was also an acoustic guitar version of the Corey Hart song “Sunglasses At Night performed by The Mohyl.

Throughout the show the performers used every inch of space that the audience did not occupy. The stage at Revival is deep, but not very wide or high.

Performers (including The Mohyl) took to the top of the bar and the aisle between chairs in the audience. Remarkably, an aerial hoop for Charlotte Webber’s performance to “Black Velvet” and aerial silks were used for Billy Black’s performance to In The Air Tonight” by Phil Collins.

But that sort of novelty only takes a show so far, I think.

What made Where’s the Beef so enjoyable for me – and I’m assuming, based on their reaction the rest of the audience – was the calibre of technical skill and sheer imagination that each performer brought to the show .

For example, there was an interpretive dance set to Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” performed by Sergei Tylerovich (Dmitry Chepovetsky). Mr. Chepovetsky’s number brought down the house with laughter.

Or consider for example the fluid, kinetic, and ilarious hip-hop dancing by Lara Ebata and Holly Treddenick, set to Grandmaster Flash’s song “The Message.”

The erotic undercurrent of Where’s the Beef can’t be overlooked as part of its charm. La Minouche (played by Catherine Skinner) playfully and frequently taps into this. The show wonderfully accepts the expression of sexuality instead of exploiting it.

Lending a sense of occasion to the event, some audience members were in costumes that were outside my expectations of what people would wear to the show. There were, for example, a few micro-miniskirts and at least a couple of Lycra bodysuits.

I would strongly recommend seeing the next Les Coquettes show, which will run in October and feature a Halloween theme.

Les Coquettes presented Where’s The Beef from June 5 to June 12, 2011 on Sundays at 7 pm and 9:30 pm.
– The show was performed at the Revival Bar in Toronto at 783 College St.
– Tickets cost $15-$30.

Photo credit: Ryan Visima