Theatre | Spiegeltent sparkles | Ken Longworth

FEELING GIDDY?:  Blanc de Blanc is an alluring cocktail of cabaret, acrobatics, circus and burlesque. Photo: Daniel Boud
FEELING GIDDY?: Blanc de Blanc is an alluring cocktail of cabaret, acrobatics, circus and burlesque. Photo: Daniel Boud

A SHOW called Blanc de Blanc, which includes a lot of references to sparkling white wines of that type, might seem an unlikely candidate for touring success in a spiegeltent that has to be erected in each location.

But the show has been a huge hit since Australian company Strut & Fret first presented it at Sydney Opera House in January 2016, touring Australia and also being staged in London’s West End. It has been so popular that it has had repeat seasons, with the Adelaide Fringe Festival hosting it in 2017 and again now, before it heads to Newcastle for shows from March 27 to April 15.

The Fortuna Spiegeltent, which can hold up to 1000 people, will be erected in Civic Park for the season. The spiegeltent has an elegant 19th century style interior. Accordingly, Blanc de Blanc mixes cabaret, acrobatics, circus, burlesque, dance and comedy, much of it clowning, as it takes watchers from one group of characters to another, with the sequences largely backed by appropriately different music recordings. The opening dance routine, for example, is done to the sultry sounds of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.

The show is compered by refined French master of ceremonies Monsieur Romeo, who introduces the night as “somewhat like a glass of fine champagne, smooth and sophisticated, leaving you giddy, bubbly and a little bit crazy”. He is assisted by contortionist and jester Spencer Novich, who is a bit dim-witted and can’t understand the difference between the French “merci” and the English “messy”.

Blanc de Blanc has lots of references to nudity and it features in the performances. But the way the nudity is handled has had audiences smiling and laughing, not  walking out. Understandably, the show is recommended for adults only.

The aerial routines often have visual references to champagne in the movements, and one sequence has balloons seemingly rising from glasses, as if they are champagne bubbles, with the balloons subsequently popping. The aerial routines also include references to champers. Some of the performers whir from above, like champagne being poured, and some suddenly disappear from the scene, only to reappear in notable state of undress, as if their clothing bubbles have vanished.

Five of the original cast members - Spencer Novich, Monsieur Romeo, J’AiMime (Jaimi Luhrmann), Laura New, and Shun Sugimoto – are in the show, joined by Milena Straczynski, Hampus Jansson, Jessica Mews, Cassie Audiffrin and Tuedon Ariri, adding to the global flavour.

Blanc de Blanc has evening and some weekend matinee performances between March 27 and April 15, with shows on all days of the Easter holiday weekend.

Visit civictheatrenewcastle.com.au for details.

Tickets from $59 to $89. Bookings: 4929 1977.

ALSO IN THE TENT

THE Fortuna Spiegeltent will also host 14 one-act musical and comedy shows during Blanc de Blanc’s Newcastle season. These start about 90 minutes before the main show. Among the one-act shows are:

Mothers Ruin, March 28, 6pm, a darkly comic cabaret staged at this year’s Sydney Festival that takes audiences on a journey through locations including New York speakeasies and the Australian bush.

Luke McGregor – Almost Fixed It, March 29, 6.30pm, with the title comedian getting a real girlfriend – or has he?

Yana Alana, April 7, 4pm, with the title queen of queer cabaret and her all-female band, Tha Paranas, performing unusual songs and excerpts from her poetry book.

Tom Gleeson, April 7, 6.30pm, has the stand-up comedian taking on Australian hecklers.

Livvy & Pete: The Songs of Olivia Newton John and Peter Allen, April 10, 6pm, has cabaret artists Michael Griffiths and Amelia Ryan paying tribute to the title performers.

Rove McManus: That's Me Talking, April 11, 6pm, a stand-up comedian in a very joking mood.

Peter Helliar: Big Boy Pants, April 13, 6.30pm, a comedian offering more than pants.

The other shows are: Emma Pask, Saturday, March 31, 6pm; Breabach, Tuesday, April 3, 6pm.

Trash & Trevor: The Best of Trevor Ashley, April 4, 6pm; Gawurra, April 5, 6.30pm; The Black Sorrows. April 6, 6.30pm; The Audreys, April 12, 6.30pm; Kate Miller-Heidke, April 15, 5.30pm.