It’s like stepping into another world. A fantasy world created by director/choreographer Austin McCormick, the new Ziegfeld of Off-Broadway. A world of debauchery, provocative pasties, bejeweled jock straps and bare buttocks where one can celebrate with champagne the inventive, inspired and insane creativity of Mr. McCormick in the intimate salon at 428 Lafayette Street – the new oasis of COMPANY XIV – directly across from The Public Theater.
It is the perfect space for ROCOCO ROUGE. Where arias meet rap. Where Handel meets Beyonce. Where Carmen rocks with Peggy Lee and where the inevitable Can-Can finale causes the packed house to cheer.
After last season’s sensational NUTCRACKER ROUGE expectations were high. Mr. McCormick and COMPANY XIV mostly do not disappoint. His is a rare combination of styles and music that somehow come together to entertain without a plot. Just magnificent voices and beautifully toned bodies on stage strutting the period balletic steps – one of Mr. McCormack’s trademarks – and performing numbers reminiscent of Cirque de Soleil.
Suspended from the rafters is a hoop where two beautiful semi-naked bodies sinuously engage in a semi-sexual encounter that is balletic and ballsy. One of the highlights of the program SONG TO THE MOON sung by a formidable Shelly Watson – the hostess for the evening and magnificently performed by Allison Ulrich and Steven Trumon Gray.
Other aspects of love include the always riveting Laura Careless dancing to Handel in Endless Pleasure while Brett Umlauf effortlessly adds silken vocals; Cyr Wheel Artist, Courtney Giannone repeating her stand out spinning from NUTCRACKER ROUGE. And Davon Rainey artistically stripping to “Is That All There Is?” while lip syncing to the live vocals of Shelly Watson – who can sing just about any style and range.
The excellent guitarist Rob Mastrianni adds to the second “Break Interlude” – an excuse to order more drinks served by the cordial and charming wait staff.
The costumes designed by Zane Pihlstrom are spectacular, worthy of a Ziegfeld production. Lighting by Jeanette Yew is artistically perfect. My only wish is that the sound could be better so that we could enjoy to the fullest extent the soothing vocals of Katrina Cunningham.
Many more surprises await you – I don’t want to spoil all the fun by divulging them. Tickets are $55 – 125 through November 2nd. www.COMPANYXIV.COM
Photos: Phillip Van Nostrand
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