We were definitely “feeling hot and feisty” this past weekend at the Fox. From Bond With Love hit the scene in an unforgettable performance by our local tour-de-force dance company, the Lovers Cabaret.
The highly-anticipated show was company-member/choreographer/co-superstar, Portia Favro’s first full-length production, in the multifaceted role as co-creator (along with Vanessa Young,) and her concept left us shaken, stirred and in a delightful afterglow, worthy of even James himself.
There are certain things you know you’re going to get at a Lovers Cabaret show – sexy dancers, an integrated storyline and some raw talent, but each show definitely has its own style and flavour, and this one was SO. MUCH. FUN. Right from the go-go at the get-go.
Featuring an array of sexy-styles, from some legitimate go-go and surf-scene moves to reimagined burlesque and even an audience-featured trio of actual lap dances, (wow, Portia Favro… you took it there…!) The show moved us through the decades, highlighting the profound and varied talent of everyone involved, and the epic concept of the Bond Girl battle at the end was perfect.
It was a perfect combination of a hard-hitting dance performance & a James Bond wet-dream-fantasy-extravaganza, and there was a freedom to it that felt fresh and new.
Best one yet.
The story takes place upon hearing of the unexpected passing of James – a carefully-curated selection of Bond Girls reunite onstage to fight for the right to mourn the presumed death of the iconic international man of mystery.
With so many characters to choose from, it was a pleasure to see who was worthy of Miss Favro’s attention…
Over the course of the show, we were re-introduced to Honey Ryder, Solitaire, Vesper Lynd, Pussy Galore, and of course – Q, M, and Miss MoneyPenny.
From the first sex-soaked step of Honey Ryder, as she rose out of the sea of audience and slithered onto the stage to M’s very last sultry strut, we were totally captivated.
To me, it felt like each of these particular Bond Girls ‘won’ their spot in the show to perfectly portray the many archetypes of cabaret/burlesque – a sort of historical montage, through the lens of James Bond – and there was enough audience participation to be fun, but not intrusive. Fiona Matthews was impossibly adorable in her portrayal of Honey Ryder – sexy, fun, free, and yet totally in control, while Bronwynn Joy’s Solitaire showed the darker, edgier side of burlesque – right down to her black, x-taped nipple-covers, and the fierce diva attitude.
(Shout-outs go to Angella Slaunwhite & Chelsea Hartwick, who really stood out, but truly, the entire ensemble was stellar.)
In the Skyfall number, Knox Harter as Vesper Lynd brought us all to our knees. Using ribbons as lasers to fill the space, the choreography was brilliant. Her confidence and awareness of her movement was mesmerizing – this number was intense. And that bodysuit though… wow.
In fact, honourable mentions go to all of the costuming and props in this show – it really felt professional, well-thought-out and perfectly selected! Everything was specifically styled- right down to their nipple tassels. So many fun elements… yes, body glitter. YES, trays of sparkly champagne! But I digress…
Back to the girls… co-creator, Vanessa Young delivered a fun portrayal of Pussy Galore and Portia’s seductive and otherworldly depiction of Q were both (expectedly) charming and endlessly entertaining, (and I loved the little duet that accompanied Q.) Vanessa entranced in her usual style, and I got a real kick out of Portia’s giant balloon-encompassed head. The choreo is always unique, but what’s truly enticing is that they have a real sense of humour and a sense of themselves that is powerful. I think this is the essence of what makes the Lovers Cabaret so successful – it’s the powerhouse combination of true talent, ambition and self-awareness. This kind of authenticity is a rare gem. (If diamonds are forever, then hopefully so is the company.)
Each identity was portrayed with ease… but for me, the stars of the show were Megan Hunter as MoneyPenny and Camille J. Hannah, as M.
Camille is always good. She’s been featured in all of the other Noir Series shows and is consistently watchable and intensely sexy, but for me, this was her perfect role. She embodied the balance of strength, class and profound sensuality that is inherent to a Bond Girl. Every movement was deliberate and she absolutely OWNED the stage.
In the end it was Bond’s truest companion, MoneyPenny, who, in hearing his last words and confirming his death, entranced the audience with her profound grief. While the rest of the show was a bit of a fun, theatrical orgy, MoneyPenny suspended us in time for a dark, haunting moment, and it was truly beautiful.
This show really felt like an evolution of the company – braiding all the elements together that make them successful and catapulting the company to yet another level. In my mind, the reason it all works, is because the work is so authentic. You can always count on a balance of fun, sexy and ‘real’ dance and the ideas are cohesive and inspired. My friend, Christie, who is an artist and often accompanies me to shows says that there is something empowering about the way the Lovers Cabaret dancers present themselves… It’s not about ego- it’s about inspiration… and who doesn’t want to be inspired?
Keep your eyes out for upcoming shows and, in particular, keep your eyes out for the rising star who helped put this all together…
The name’s Favro, Portia Favro.