This review of Guilty Pleasures Cabaret at The Duplex was written by Christopher M. Struck and published in Volume X, Issue 7 (2017) of the online edition of Applause! Applause!
Guilty Pleasures Cabaret
Directed & Produced by Bridget Bose & Andrea Palesh
M.C. - Katie Sasse
61 Christopher Street
New York, New York 10014
Fortunately for my friends and I on a spooky Friday, the 13th, in October, we got the good end of the luck spectrum in attending a phenomenal show performed by the Guilty Pleasures Cabaret crew in tribute to the 1990s and Y2K. Not only were they a well-choreographed dance group, but they included clever raps, songs, and jabs that stoked the audience's excitement. Frankly, it would be too easy to discount the talent level of these dancers given that Burlesque has lost some of its traditionally sophisticated airs lending more to stylish stripteases, but if you did that, you'd be missing out on the biggest in-secret dying to break beyond the borders of Manhattan's West Village. These girls are the newest innovative dance troupe to hit New York continuing the traditions of the first Rockettes and even the Ziegfeld dancers by combining multiple musical and dance styles to create a stunning effect.
One of the clear advantages of their performance is that it is sexy, but it's way too classy to not give it more than a couple of hashtags on social media. Each dance and each dancer brought a unique twist to the evening. I'll share with you some of the best-executed performances in order to give you some insight into what you can expect if you decide to experience Guilty Pleasures Cabaret in the flesh.
In the first of their 1990s mashups, which led off the night, Megan Stricker shined as the lead in a trio: schoolgirl uniform dance to Britney Spears' classic pop hit, "Oops!...I Did It Again." Throughout the mashup, the performers executed without hesitation, and the costume changes were so efficient that what must have been less than 60-second song clips were enough to go from sports bras to glittering leotards. The majority of the songs in the Guilty Girls' set were some variation of this style with well-done, themed costumes and acrobatic dance moves set to 90s music such as a raunchy "Come As You Are" that Kurt Cobain couldn't have imagined.
There were a couple of other dance numbers that broke the mold. One of them being "Ray Of Light" led by the exceptional Andrea Palesh. This song demonstrated the girls' ability to work together with incredible timing and coordination. Basically a flashlight dance with colored lights, the girls were able to mime a story in a movement that evoked deeper emotion when performed in near complete darkness. When set between songs featuring glitz and glamour, it had a strong effect.
The third song I felt was best executed and conceived was the rap to "Shoop" by Bridget Bose. If you ever imagined a white girl rapping, you probably didn't imagine the show Bose put on as her fellow performers danced synchronously to her left. There were plenty of the girls' trademark hair flips and high kicks too, but Bose's ability to drop heavy lead with more than just her legs was fantastic.
Ultimately, dancers owned the spotlight, but it was stolen temporarily by an incredibly talented supporting cast including M.C. Katie Sasse and vocalists Melissa Becker, Julia Goretsky, and Shayna Blass. If you haven't seen these simmering singers perform, they are worth a look. It was exciting to see the budding star, Shayna Blass, perform again. She crushed it on the song "Criminal" and brought the whole 90s spoof night home with a killer graduation speech which played off many of the misconceptions of the 1990s such as using old cell phones and the early opinion of the internet.
Fantastic stuff all around. I can't say enough about these performers. Their shows are more than fun. Check them out for the upcoming Halloween events from the 27th through the 29th at The Duplex. Get tickets or find out more information at www.guiltypleasurescabaret.com