Alan Cumming to return to New Orleans on Jan. 21, 2017, with new show, new album

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Tony Award-winning performer Alan Cumming will make a return to New Orleans, and the Joy Theater, with a Jan. 21, 2017 show, promoter and producer Daniel Nardicio announced Tuesday (Dec. 20).

And this time, Cumming’s coming with a new album: “Sings Sappy Songs — Live at the Cafe Carlyle.” Tickets went on sale immediately.

Nardicio noted in the press release:

Backed by Cumming’s longtime musical director Lance Horne on piano, Eleanor Norton on cello and Chris Jago on drums, Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs premiered in Spring 2016 for a limited run at the iconic New York supper club Café Carlyle, garnering such critical praise that Nardicio approached Cumming about bringing the show to Carnegie Hall and then New Orleans for a one-night-only performance. … (The album) includes his singular interpretations of pop hits (Billy Joel’s “Goodnight Saigon,” Miley Cyrus’s “The Climb,” Rufus Wainwright’s “Dinner at Eight”), musical theater songs (“The Ladies Who Lunch” from Company, “You, You, You” from Kander & Ebb’s The Visit, “If Love Were All” by Noël Coward) and numbers that Cumming has collected from around the world (“Mother Glasgow” from Scotland, “La Complainte de la Butte” from France, “How Do Humans Live” from Germany).

Tickets range from $45 to $150; there also are seats available that include admission to Cummings’ personal after-party “Club Cumming,” which was his nightly post-show performance dressing-room celebration during the recent Broadway production of “Cabaret.”

Cumming last performed at the Joy in April 2015. Check out his most recent appearance on NPR, as well as his appearance on “Dinner Party Download.” Check out a review of his tour here.

Cumming has long been known for his versatility. Time Magazine has called him one of the most fun people in show business. A Tony winner for his role as the MC in “Cabaret,” Cumming more recently has gained fame for portraying political operator Eli Gold on CBS’s “The Good Wife,” which has gained him honors including Golden Globe, Emmy, SAG and Satellite Award nominations. Earlier in 2016, he finished his most recent turn in “Cabaret.” He also is host of PBS’s “Masterpiece Mystery” and appears opposite Lisa Kudrow in Showtime’s “Web Therapy.”

Bella Blue to launch Foxglove Revue, a new burlesque troupe in New Orleans

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UPDATE: Guest performer Ray Gunn of New York City was just voted No. 13 in the 21st Century Burlesque magazine readers’ poll.

New Orleans burlesque performer Bella Blue will launch a new troupe, Foxglove Revue, she announced at her “Touché” show Thursday (Jan. 28) at the Joy Theater.

The inspiration behind the troupe might sound counterintuitive when you consider her stating the obvious of the current status of the scene:

“Burlesque is really saturated right now.”

So why add another troupe? To make it better, she said.

“The challenge is making it stand out. Making it unique. Making it really set apart from the others,” Blue said. “What we feel we have done is chosen all very strong performers who are committed to not just bringing their A-game, but are also committed to learning.”

It’s a strong and varied lineup, indeed: Darling Darla James (sideshow/neo/classic), Charlotte Treuse (classic), Queenie O’Hart (musical theater), Stevie Poundcake (boylesque/musical theater), Madonnathan (drag), Angie Z (classic/vocals), Cherry Bombshell (classic), Miss Monarch M (bellydance/classic), Cherry Brown (classic) and The Lady Lucerne.

“It’s our take on the burlesque troupe formula but including a wide array of performers that don’t fit into one type of genre or style,” she said.

But, importantly, she’ll hold her performers to the same high standard she’s held for herself, with a healthy dose of collaboration.

“They have to take classes,” said Blue, who for years has led the New Orleans School of Burlesque, which found a permanent home in 2015 at the Healing Center. “They have to attend peer reviews. They have to bring new acts to the table. And in turn, we do all we can to help them out. Pitching in for costumes, props, whatever they need.

“Any of my ‘perks’ extend to them,” she continued. “Discounts, products, etc.”

The troupe premiered an act at “Touché,” and will spend the upcoming weeks finalizing details on its opening production, including date and venue.


Madame Rosebud channels inner David Bowie for “Touche” appearance Jan. 28 at the Joy Theater

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(NOTE: For event info on “Touché,” click here.)

Madame Rosebud has been going through a David Bowie phase for, oh, maybe about a quarter-century now.

Or phases.

As a child, the New York burlesque performer went from being terrified of his presence when Mom showed a BBC documentary, to being obsessed with him through adolescence and very painful teen years.

“He looked so beautiful and terrifying,” said Rosebud. “There was something about the power of his physicality. It was his sort of reptilian physicality and the fact it was equal parts masculine and feminine, and it was threateningly seductive. There was nothing cute about (Ziggy Stardust). It was intentionally threatening and I had never seen that before. I fell in love with all of those ideas mixed together.

“He was taking all those things I wanted to see, but didn’t know I wanted to see them, and it put them all together.”

Growing up in Sedona, Ariz., she could count the number of friends on one finger, and she went through as many iterations of Bowie that she could think to cope with a persistence sense of alienation. She remembers spending an entire school year in a three-piece suit to honor the Thin White Duke phase of his career.

“I was in a constant state of performance art,” Rosebud said.

The Thin White Duchess from Abe Goldfarb on Vimeo.

She still is, really, and has become one of the more cutting-edge performers in the typically edgy New York scene. And when Bella Blue asked her to perform at her “Touché” show Jan. 28 at the Joy Theater, she asked for Madame Rosebud to resurrect her act inspired by the Bowie song “Wild Is the Wind.” The death of the rock star and pop-culture shape-shifter on Jan. 10 only underscored the need for a little Ziggy Stardust magic. Not that either Madame Rosebud or Bella Blue believes that Bowie’s THAT gone from us.

“I don’t think that he died,” said Rosebud. “I think that he ascended.”

Madame Rosebud, a few days after the ascension, gathered with other performers at The Slipper Room on the Lower East Side, “and it sort of became an impromptu celebration. DJs played Bowie music, and I did two of my Bowie pieces. We all needed to collectively work out this lump in our throat together.

“For me, it’s not gone. I’ve talked to my mom about it several times.”

It’s performers like Madame Rosebud that enjoy mutual admiration with Bella Blue, who loves tapping into that New York sensibility of variety and cabaret performance that often walks crazy fine lines between drag and burlesque. Rosebud will bring husband Bastard Keith — the self-styled inventor of “Burletiquette” — for the show, which includes fellow New Yorker Gal Friday, Chicago boylesque performer Ray Gunn, and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” contestant BenDeLaCreme as emcee. (Bella Blue and Nona Narcisse will be among the New Orleans performers.)

The fact that Bowie left this mortal coil after Bella Blue signed up Madame Rosebud isn’t lost on either performer.

“With, Bella it’s perfect,” Rosebud said. “I get to come down here and celebrate with her. She’s from the same weird place. You just kind of know other aliens when you see them.”





Bella Blue returns for Mardi Gras with “Touche” Jan. 28 at Joy Theater

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Building on the success of last year’s “CREAM!” show, Bella Blue Entertainment returns with another variety show in time for Mardi Gras with “Touché” on Jan. 28 at the Joy Theater. Drag queen BenDeLaCreme, the former “RuPaul’s Drag Race” contestant who emceed last year’s show (held at One Eyed Jacks), returns as the emcee for this show that promises performers from the over-lapping worlds of burlesque, cabaret and drag.

“In true New Orleans fashion, ‘Touché’ ́promises a night to remember with an eclectic mix of performances ranging from classic Bourbon Street style burlesque to drag, boylesque, neo performance art, and more,” Bella Blue said in a press release Monday. “… We will also be revealing the latest project from Bella Blue Entertainment … you’ll have to come to the show and see it for yourself!”

Tickets start at $20 and are available here; VIP seating is available.

The lineup: Chicago’s Ray Gunn, 2013 King of Boylesque; New York City’s Gal Friday, “The 5 Alarm Fire of Burlesque”; New York City’s Madame Rosebud, “The David Bowie of Burlesque” (watch video below); Nona Narcisse, co-founder of New Orleans’ Slow Burn Burlesque; and Bella Blue. The “CREAM!” show, held during Southern Decadence, was co-produced by the burlesque team Kitten ‘N Lou (with former New Orleans burlesque performer Kitten LaRue) and featured BenDeLaCreme as emcee with performances by New York City’s Chris Harder and New Orleans entertainers Vinsantos, Eros Sea and Lady Satine.

The Thin White Duchess from Abe Goldfarb on Vimeo.

Historic New Orleans theaters come storming back post-Katrina. Now what? (Biz New Orleans)

Interior shot of the recently reopened Orpheum Theatre. (Photo by James Shaw)

Interior shot of the recently reopened Orpheum Theatre. (Photo by James Shaw)

New Orleans has a rich history of lovely theaters, many of which were laid low by the floodwaters following Hurricane Katrina. That’s why it was such a fun and challenging assignment to chart the post-Katrina renaissance of five of these theaters: the Civic, Saenger, Joy, Carver and, most recently, the Orpheum. This was for Biz New Orleans‘ November issue, which is out on the streets and available online here.

In “Encore Performance,” I try to place both the collective and individual resurgence of the theaters in an economic perspective, checking in with leading authorities in the New Orleans business community to try to figure out just how all of these theaters will continue to sustain themselves. Maybe it’s a matter of remaining viable in an increasingly competitive entertainment market, though just about everyone interviewed didn’t think their respective theater was in direct competition with another. More accurately, it seems, it will be about each theater establishing its own identity (or “brand,” if you will) and making smart bookings (and at the right price point) that speak to their particular audience.

I would say that three of the theaters profiled have a firm grasp on that identity: the grand daddy of them all, the Saenger, obviously is the go-to spot for touring Broadway shows, big-name music acts and other top-flight entertainers (with the occasional touring family-entertainment show); the Orpheum is the beloved home to the LPO and prestige touring acts that have marquee value but not big enough for the Saenger; and the Civic, which has become an indie-rock haven while also welcoming such quirky acts as the legendary John Waters and the nerdie podcast show, “Welcome to Night Vale.”

If you can’t tell, I remain a bit skeptical of the Joy Theater, which has occasional great bookings for music and comedy and cabaret (hello, Alan Cumming!), but needs more consistency; and the Carver, which, at press time, appeared to be undergoing yet another management change. Stay tuned on that.

There are other factors, as well, most notably a New Orleans economy that appears to be entering the next chapter of its post-Katrina recovery — one that won’t necessarily benefit from the kind of recovery, stimulus, tax incentive or other funding mechanisms that brought these theaters back to life. There’s the job market, and wages, and a housing market whose boom period might at some point head to a seemingly inevitable burst. (Doesn’t it always?) As Greater New Orleans, Inc.’s Michael Hecht put it:

“These venues, which not only are expensive to operate but also to maintain, will be the canaries in the coal mine for the health of the New Orleans economy,” Hecht says. “As we continue to add companies and great talent from around the country, we need to keep building a middle class that has more disposable income. If, in the post-Katrina environment, as the recovery money goes away that the economy flattens, these theaters are going to be one of the indications of that happening, because this is where that disposable income goes.”

I’ll have more stuff in upcoming issues of Biz New Orleans. So please stay tuned on that and other future work coming soon. In the meantime, enjoy the piece.

That said, which theater’s future concerns you the most? Which one do you worry might not make the cut? Take the poll below.