Alice through looking glass of another sort



Empty clothes hangers line a rack in the Power House Theatre as “Through The Looking Glass: The Burlesque Alice In Wonderland” creators Lily Verlaine, left, and Jasper McCann host a question and answer session about their production that runs at the theater tonight through Sunday.

WALLA WALLA -- You've never seen Alice like this.

Even if you prefer the Lewis Carroll classic to the Disney version. Even if you consider yourself a fan of burlesque. Even if you've already seen "Through the Look Glass: The Burlesque Alice in Wonderland" at the Triple Door in Seattle, where it debuted three years ago.

The version coming to the Power House Theatre this weekend will be different, its creators and stars say, in part because of the venue.

The Power House offers the perfect size stage for engaging with the audience and the technical production capabilities to complete the vision that creators Lily Verlaine and Jasper McCann envisioned as they adapted Carroll's story for a burlesque "Alice in Wonderland."

"We haven't been able to do the kinds of things that we're going to be able to do here," McCann teased during a recent press junket at the theater. "There are just so many more flourishes and flashes we can do."

With this weekend's five shows nearly sold out, an additional performance was announced Wednesday. A 7 p.m. show Sunday was added to the lineup of performances tonight, Friday, two Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Reserved seating ranges from $15 to $50.

The suggested age for audience members is 18 because of some artistic nudity. But for those familiar with Verlaine and McCann's body of work -- including "Land of the Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker" and "Burlesco DiVino: Wine in Rome" -- nudity factor is reportedly slightly downplayed by comparison.

"We actually conceal more than we reveal," Verlaine said to an audience of marketing and press representatives. "The art of the tease is real. But the show doesn't hang on the crux of who shows what and when."

Anywhere from one to 14 people will be dancing on the stage at a time. Dance styles include ballet, belly, jazz and more. Music is a mix of jazz, classical, exotic and Indian. The performers are a who's who of Seattle's burlesque scene, including Waxie Moon, Miss Indigo Blue, Babette La Fave, Inga Ingénue and Lou Henry Hoover.

The latter two are double cast as Alice. One a blonde. The other brunette. The young adult Alice peers through the looking glass and is pulled in by her reflection. The two turn Wonderland into a reimagined ecdysiastic show that brings the White Rabbit, Queen of Hearts and Caterpillar to life.

Verlaine and McCann, who also introduced themselves to Walla Walla with a meet-and-greet at Public House 124 this week, came up with the idea for the production on a 2008 cross-country road trip when they were scouting locations for their 'Nutcracker' performances.

In development, they wanted to distance themselves as much as possible from the Disney version, Verlaine said. Carroll's piece was fertile ground for a burlesque adaptation, McCann said.

"It's allowed us to not only creating an engaging theatrical experience, but give it breadth and depth and create character development as it moves forward," he explained.

For fans of burlesque, the thematic 'Alice' is a slightly different approach to traditional burlesque.

McCann and Verlaine said Walla Walla seems to have embraced the art form. "Everyone's been so, so enthusiastic and helpful," McCann said. "We can't imagine it won't be successful."


Lily Verlaine (Caterpillar and Red Queen) : Classically trained ballet dancer studied at San Francisco Ballet; one of the original members of The Atomic Bombshells, featured in "A Wink and a Smile" documentary; 2011 runner up for Reining Queen of Burlesque; artistic director, choreographer and co-producer of "Land of the Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker," "Burlesco DiVino: Wine in Rome," and "L'Historie du Melody Nelson."

Jasper McCann (The White Rabbit): Entertainer, musician and writer; technical director, writer and co-producer of "Land of the Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker" and "Burlesco DiVino: Wine in Rome." Received vocal training at the University of Kansas. Emcee of The Atomic Bombshells. Currently writing a guide on mid-century etiquette and style.

Featured cast:

Inga Ingnue (Alice): Began stripteasing in 2005 and has become an internationally known burlesque star, winning the 2011 "Miss Viva Las Vegas" competition. A member of Dance Belt USA, The Atomic Bombshells, Blue Velvet Rhythm & Dance Revue and is an instructor at Miss Indigo Blue's Academy of Burlesque.

Lou Henry Hoover (Alice): Conceived by dance-based performance artist Ricki Mason. Also is half of The Cherdonna and Lou Show and one-third of the DeLouRue Presents partnership with Kitten LaRue and BenDeLaCreme. Serves as co-host and principal showboy extradordinaire for The Atomic Bombshells and is a founding member of Dance Belt USA. Recognized by Seattle Magazine as a 2010 Spotlight Award Winner for her work with Cherdonna Shinatra.

Miss Indigo Blue (The Mad Hatter, Tiger Lily, The Duchess): Internationally recognized performer and educator; won Reigning Queen of Burlesque at The Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend in 211; founder and headmistress of The Academy of Burlesque; designs handmade TwirlyGirl pasties, member of The Atomic Bombshells; stars in documentary "A Wink and A Smile;" representative of the Burlesque Hall of Fame.

Waxie Moon (Cheshire Cat, Cook): Known as the "gender-blending boylesque performance-art stripping sensation." Featured performer in "Land of the Sweets" and "House of Thee Unholy 2-4;" performed boylesque for Margaret Cho, Cyndi Lauper, Carson Kressley and The B-52s. Subject of an award-winning feature-length documentary film and much more.

Babette La Fave (Jabberwocky, Tweedle Sister, Cook): Canadian burlesque and cabaret pioneer with 17 years experience. Started with the Karen Jamieson Dance Co., then went to Fluffgirl Burlesque Scoeity and The Wormwood Bros. Circus Sideshow. Developed the NFP theater/dance troupe The Empire Follies, touring the U.S. and Canada until 2002. Joined The Atomic Bombshells in 2003.


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