Incoming! Burlesque troupe rolls into Walla Walla

The Atomic Bombshells will perform Saturday night at Charles Smith Wines.

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The Atomic Bombshells have been on some fairly exotic stages performing burlesque across the globe. An opera house in Portugal. Shanghai's luxurious Glamour Bar. A garage with an audience of motorcyclists.

A winery in the middle of downtown Walla Walla doesn't seem like much of a stretch, said Kitten LaRue, one of the troupe's dancers, as well as artistic director and producer, as she contemplated her trip to the city this weekend.

"We have seen it all," LaRue said via telephone from the Seattle area, which The Atomic Bombshells call home.

But is Walla Walla ready for the artform revival that combines dancing, comedy and striptease with tongue-in-cheek performances designed to celebrate the feminine form?

Judging from ticket sales: Yes.

All 199 tickets for the Saturday night performance of The Atomic Bombshells at the Charles Smith Wines tasting room, 35 S. Spokane St., have sold out. Which means, if you want to catch the Kitten or any of the four Bombshells who will take the stage with her -- Honey D. Luxe, known as the "Doe-Eyed Darling;" Fanny N. Flames, the "Burnin' Angel;" Ruby Mimosa, the "Island Flower:" and Ivy St. Spectre, the "Switchblade Sweetheart" -- it will have to be through an encore performance at another time.

For those not able to make it, Kitten LaRue offered a description of what the troupe will bring to Walla Walla on Saturday.

The performance will be a revue of some of the Atomic Bombshells' favorite acts.

"It's really very sweet and charming, gorgeous, glamorous, sequins and feathers," LaRue said. Tap dancing will also be part of the performance, she said.

The artform that first exploded in the x40s and '50s and has experienced an explosive revival in recent years is a little bit naughty, but harkens to an age of Hollywood glamour and innocence, LaRue said. That, in fact, was part of the attraction for LaRue, who along with the other Bombshells has been dancing most of her life.

"My grandmother raised me on old MGM musicals, which now provide a lot of cues for the shows," she said.

The show will run about an hour with a brief intermission.

The Atomic Bombshells were introduced to Charles Smith Wines and K Vintners a year ago when they were hired to perform at Wine Party 2010, a Seattle event held by the Walla Walla wineries with 20 others from Washington at the Palace Ballroom in Seattle.

"People just had a blast," said Lynne Anderson, a marketing official for the winery.

"It's very theatrical and kitschy -- so well done with a hint of nostalgic vaudeville to it."

According to a description on their website, the roots of The Atomic Bombshells are traced back to the sultry swamps of New Orleans, where Kitten LaRue got her start.

The troupe made its 2003 debut at The Showbox in Seattle with burlesque superstar Dita Von Teese. Since then they've performed for packed houses throughout the city, headlined a 30-city Camel Speakeasy Tour across the country and wow East Coast audiences with an annual summer residence in the Provincetown, Mass., theater scene.

Anderson figures ticket sales for Saturday's show were split down the middle between local residents and visitors.

LaRue, for one, said she can't wait to take the stage. "There's something about the smaller towns that have the best audiences," she said. "I'm just looking forward to getting a taste of local culture."

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 526-8321.

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