Blanc de Blanc
Any show that is all about the wonderful elixir that is champagne is all right by me. But Blanc de Blanc, bought to the Studio at the Sydney Opera house by Strut & Fret (Cantina, LIMBO), is much more than a celebration of champagne. It is a celebration of all things French cabaret, performing arts, dance, music and having an (adults only) great night out.
As I took my unreserved – you are seated by ticket type but after that it is first in best dressed – seat, I was struck at how well the design and production team have done to transform the Studio into a space that immediately transports you to Paris. The stage set, lighting and settling music was very effective for getting you in the right mood.
Monsieur Romeo, our maitre d’/emcee for the evening, took the stage whilst the house lights were still on and the audience was still chatting amongst themselves. He greated a few of the ladies sitting in the front row tables, before taking his place on stage with the rest of the cast to start the show and welcomes us all…in French. It was amusing to try and keep up and see how many words you could recognise, but you got the basic jist of what he was saying.
Before he was interrupted by Spencer Novich (KA, Vegas Nocturne) to remind him that we couldn’t understand a word he was saying. Spencer then quickly welcomed us in English to the Blanc de Blanc spectacular.
Masha (Dralion, Soap, Pippin) was the first solo performer of the night. She is a graduate from the National Circus School in Montreal and her solid acrobatic performance on a hotel luggage cart – both on stage and in the AIR – and then a set of hula hoops later in the show, is a testament to this training.
We are introduced to Jaimi as she dances onto stage with her partner, which is actually her other arm in a man’s prop suit. It was a very clever number as she played a duel role with a single body.
Romeo assembles the cast on stage to take us through the three steps to experiencing drinking champagne. Step 1 – the attack, the first taste sensation. Step 2 – the ménage à trois, the flavour. Step 3 – the finish. All of the steps accompanied by small set provocative performances and setup on stage, including an homage to the Kim Kardashian ‘break the internet’ photo.
The music mix used in the show is unlike anything I’ve heard before. A mix of traditional French fair, contemporary songs re-mixed to a dance/nightclub feel and performance pieces uniquely created just for this show.
Throughout the show, audience members were selected to come up on stage and be part of the performance – from learning how to open a bottle of champagne the French way, to being part of an act that you expect to see in a French cabaret show.
Shun simply blew the audiences mind with his performance to “The Hi-De-Ho Man (That’s Me)”. I can only describe his style as a contortionist freestyle street-dancer. I’m pretty sure he twists and turns his body in ways that should be possible!
To finish off the first half, all the cast performed an energetic and thrilling performance to “Lady Marmalade” which concluded with Monsieur Romeo submerged in a bathtub full of plastic balls that was situated in the middle of the main floor.
He actually stayed in the tub for most of the intermission and one daring audience member jumped in there with him – fully dressed! Other cast members also roamed the audience during intermission. My favourite was Emma Maye Gibson (Betty Grumble, La Traviata) who had a champagne bottle strapped to her crotch area and was serving drinks from that bottle.
The second half kicks off with the advertised and forewarned full frontal nudity. I’ll emphasis this again, this is definitely an adult’s only show and if you don’t want to run the risk of a genital in your face, then this isn’t the show for you. I thought this piece was creative but having performers run through the audience naked was necessary.
I also wasn’t sure of Jaimi’s performance in a large scale bubble, it felt like (pardon the pun) a flat point in the evening.
One of the highlights of the evening was Jerome Sordillon’s aerial straps display which was equal parts graceful, strong, silent, powerful, erotic and a damn fine example of acrobatic strength.
Emma Maye led us all in an “I Will Survive” sing-along whilst she spun her very impressive nipple tassles. I found her the most engaging performer of them all and am looking forward to seeking her out in her other creative roles.
Selfie alert! At this stage of the show the audience is allowed 5 minutes to take a selfie with the performers. Be quick though, as they are quickly swamped.
The show concludes in a fun finale filled with foam, bubbles and frivolity. The audience is ready to dance by this stage and you are encouraged to do so. No longer are you in a cabaret theatre, you are in a French nightclub and it’s time to dance, party & enjoy the finest beverage in the world…champagne.
All in all, director Scott Maidment and chorographer & co-executive director Kevin Maher, have created quite a unique experience that was thrilling and exhilarating.
Blanc de Blanc is now playing at the Sydney Opera House http://www.sydneyoperahouse.com/whatson/blanc_de_blanc.aspx