London Wonderground is set to spice up the Southbank for a third year this summer, with an extensive and varied programme of events covering cabaret, comedy, music, circus, and burlesque. I heartily recommend multiple visits to Wonderground; you can enjoy a cool drink in the gardens with lanterns dancing above you in the trees, browse the sideshows and attractions, and then enter the gorgeous Speigeltent to experience a relaxed evening of entertainment. Comedy fans amongst you will also enjoy the Udderbelly Festival next door.
I have put together a two-part guide to all the shows which focus on or include burlesque performance at London Wonderground 2014 for your consideration. Part Two of the guide is here. Stay tuned throughout the summer for reviews and photos from these productions…
House of Burlesque
Tempest Rose, currently in residence at Madame Jojo’s, is bringing her merry band of bawdy bombshells back to London Wonderground for a third year. She spoke to 21st Century Burlesque Magazine about what you can expect:
“The London Wonderground, along with our Madame Jojo’s residency, is one of the highlights of the HOB calendar. This will be our third year at the venue and we will be pulling out all the stops with a show inspired by romance, passion, glamour and women everywhere. Our audience can expect a totally new show with some exciting collaborations; for example, we are thrilled to be showcasing costuming from the stunning House of Ivory’s latest collection, all wrapped up in the usual pizzazz, wit and intelligence our audience has come to expect from House of Burlesque.”
12th June – 18th September. £15.50 Book Tickets.
Cirque du Cabaret
Tassel Club ringmistress Sara Colohan is also back at Wonderground for a third year with variety show Cirque du Cabaret:
“This is our third year back at London Wonderground. There really isn’t another venue that suits our show as well as a Speigeltent. Performing in the round allows us get up close and personal with everyone in the room! We have a new mix of international burlesque, circus and live music this year, so I am really looking forward to these summer shows.”
Look out for: Yusura Circus and Missy Fatale are confirmed to appear.
25th July + 8th August. £17.50 – £24.50 Book Tickets.
Between the Sheets
Polly Rae and her creative team have created a highly entertaining and successful production which you can currently enjoy twice a week at the Hippodrome Casino in Leicester Square. I spoke to Polly about the upcoming Wonderground appearance:
“I am so thrilled to be bringing Between The Sheets to London Wonderground this year. It’s going to be incredible to adapt the concept to suit the stunning surroundings of a Speigeltent and have the opportunity to fully expand my vision. I’ve got an absolutely incredible creative team on board (Kitty Bang Bang, Klare ‘Yaya’ Wilkinson and Laura Corcoran, aka ‘Frisky’ of Frisky and Mannish) plus a cast that blows my mind. Things are going to get VERY hot this summer!”
Look out for: As well as Polly Rae herself, British burlesque heavyweight Kitty Bang Bang will appear, alongside other Between the Sheets regulars.
1st August + 9th August. £17.50 Book Tickets.
Black Cat Cabaret
With a London Cabaret Award under its belt, the Black Cat Cabaret will be lighting up the Speigeltent on several evenings at London Wonderground 2014. Co-producer and burlesque headliner Vicky Butterfly had a lot to say about the production:
“One of the signature features of Black Cat is that it provides a more immersive experience; as well as the show unfolding onstage, the cast also ‘live’ amongst the audience, with individual stories and relationships. We like you to feel as if we are all in this world together.
Although there are also spectacular set pieces and big group numbers, the show also feels really intimate. We like to take an idea and put a unique twist on it – take images that may perhaps be seen as safe and take them back to their dark roots. The original Le Chat Noir often looked to the classics, added contemporary elements and made people look at themselves, and in addition to trying to create something fun and exciting I like to think that we are keeping that torch burning.
When you are working with a cast of established performers at the top of their game, part of the challenge is to create a show that is also unique and individual to the production. As well as collaborating together to extend the acts’ journey throughout the show using other skills, we have also created a lot of original material that cannot be seen elsewhere. There are original songs as well as wardrobes of costumes to help create a unified and distinctive style. Everyone who performs is a member of the family and we have been incredibly lucky in that we have some big stars who have been willing to experiment to create or adapt an act to enhance the thread of the story we are telling.”
Look out for: Vicky Butterfly will be an obvious burlesque highlight in this production, and co-creator Dusty Limits will act as host.
13th June – 26th September. £19.50 Book Tickets.
The spectacular and internationally celebrated BRIEFS is back at London Wonderground from the end of August. I managed to grab a word with sensational troupe leader Captain Kidd:
“We have been touring Australia and Europe since our last outing at London Wonderground and The Second Coming is a show which is constantly evolving. It has become more ridiculous, risqué, muscle-bound and glittery!
BRIEFS will be back with a slightly longer show and in the primetime slot for the whole month of September. We are really looking forward to setting up camp!”
Look out for: Alongside a skilled and charismatic cast, Captain Kidd (Burlesque Hall of Fame ‘Best Boylesque’ 2011) will be joined by the outstanding Evil Hate Monkey (Burlesque Hall of Fame ‘Best Boylesque’ 2010).
28th August – 28th September. £15.50 Book Tickets.
Read Part Two here. London Wonderground 2014 runs from 7th May – 28th September 2014. Visit the website for the full programme of shows and further information.
Burlesque Hall of Fame / Miss Exotic World Judge, 2011 Holli Mae Johnson is the founder and editor of 21st Century Burlesque Magazine, a pioneering publication created twelve years ago to unite, document and celebrate the global burlesque community. Holli is actively involved in the burlesque community on a day to day basis and is privately consulted by performers and producers at every level for promotion, critique, recommendations and encouragement. As a documenter and critic, she has seen countless burlesque and variety performances from across the world and provides an intimate perspective and insight into the lives and careers of burlesque’s greatest pioneers, performers and personalities.