Leading cabaret and burlesque troupe Les Coquettes bid a fond farewell to the Toronto stage
For the past 11 years, the lovely ladies and gents of Les Coquettes have wowed and dazzled Toronto audiences with their signature blend of song-and-dance cabaret with tongue-in-cheek burlesque. Their performances taking up residence at Toronto’s Revival Club have sold out year after year and their Halloween and holiday spectacles have become a regular tradition for many.
And now with a bittersweet turn, the fine Coquettes have decided to hang up their garters and stockings with their final show in time for this year’s All Hallow’s Eve. As apropos to the troupe, they’ve decided to go out with a BANG!
With two final nights at the Revival and only four opportunities to see this troupe perform for the last time, be sure to grab your tickets as they’re selling out fast.
In anticipation of their final show, I managed to have a chat with Les Coquettes co-founder, artistic director and Mistress of Ceremonies Catherine Skinner aka La Minouche about the past decade of Les Coquettes, their final show, and what’s to come on the horizon.
Les Coquettes is known as one of Toronto’s leading burlesque and cabaret troupes, what do you think has put the troupe at the forefront?
I think Les Coquettes have earned a sterling reputation because we’re a troupe comprised of trained, seasoned performers who come at our shows like any other professional performance. We are committed to an extensive rehearsal process, we take great pride in the numbers we create together, and we’ve set a really high standard for ourselves in production quality. What we lack in expensive sets and costumes, we make up in true grit, passion and talent. Kathryn Romanow (aka Lilli Bubalotovich), my business partner and our co-founder is our production manager, in addition to all the other hats she wears (lead choreographer, performer) and she runs a very tight ship.
You’re the artistic director and MC for Les Coquettes shows, what has it been like working with this team of ladies and gents? What can you recall as your highlights?
The current team of performers and crew for Les Coquettes have absolutely become my family. We haven’t held auditions in such a long time because the troupe is so strong right now, we didn’t want to tip the balance. My troupe mates are incredible people who inspire me all the time, both on stage and off. I love them all dearly and consider it one of the greatest gifts in my life to create with them, on them, and for them.
There have been so many incredible moments on stage with Les Coquettes. We were blessed to perform in the very first Luminato Festival at Harbourfront in the Spiegel Tent under the direction of the brilliant Tina Rasmussen. We rang in New Year’s Eve at the gorgeous Sanderson Centre in Brantford two years in a row.
We even enjoyed a small tour, with a performance in Fort McMurray at the Keyano Theatre for the very warmest, most receptive audience I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing to. It’s also been incredible to really make a home for ourselves at Revival here in Toronto. Joe Saturnino, the owner, is a gem and he’s always had such belief in our company. It’s felt like a home to us, and we’ve used that beautiful space (a former church!) in some really unique ways.
Offstage, it’s been truly beautiful to watch my Coquettes family grow with tiny new additions, new relationships, and new career aspirations.
It was a shock when I learned that you’d be hanging up your garters for good with BANG! being your last show, what has lead to the troupe calling it quits?
It’s a tremendous amount of work and time commitment to put one of our shows together. I think we were all starting to feel pulled in different directions, and rather than allow the show quality to suffer, we’ve decided to go out while we still feel on top.
Though Les Coquettes may be coming to an end, is it safe to say that the members won’t be saying goodbye to burlesque and performing anytime soon? What’s next for the members?
I imagine most of the troupe will continue to look for performance opportunities, Lots of our members also teach dance and aerial, and some are moving on to exciting new career paths, like Dante Inferno who is currently studying holistic nutrition and plans to launch a business focusing in health and wellness in the fall of 2015.
I’ll be focusing on my writing, with my blog at playboymommy.com and in other capacities that I’m excited to explore. I’m dreaming of writing a novel!
Let’s talk about BANG! I’ve been to your past two Halloween shows where the crowds were dazzled with themes like classic art come to life and fairy-tales gone twisted, what can audiences expect with your final show?
For our final show, we’ve really given the performers permission to explore any themes or ideas that they have wanted to explore on the Coquettes stage. Some of the numbers are really quite personal, and moving, others are very outlandish and crazy. BANG! Isn’t particularly theme heavy this time around, just a great, eclectic, sensual collection of performances. We’ve invited our audience to come dressed as sexy vampires from any era in history, so that we can enjoy the fun of Halloween!