Sat 2 May, 2015
Tags: 3 1/2 STARS, Beast Women, Beast Women 2015 Spring Series, Female Cabaret, Jillian Erickson, Michelle Power, Prop Theatre, Prop Thtr
After long stints at the Greenhouse and the Den, Beast Women have brought their menagerie of variety acts back to their old home at PROP THTR for their 2015 Spring Series. Producer and emcee Michelle Power kept the opening night, late-night crowd pumped through the showcase of diverse and powerful female performers.
Blonde bombshell Royal T. titillated with an old-fashioned striptease. Holly Beaudry brought the laughs with her self-effacing, autobiographical brand of comedy. Diane Hamm delivered a blues-fueled fan dance in the classic style. Comedic songstress Tiffany Streng used an acoustic guitar and her smoky singing voice to teach the audience that, when it comes to songwriting, Ke$ha isn’t a patch on Bob Dylan’s ass.
Burlesque performer Shimmy Laroux put on her red satin dress and black feather boa, cranked up the Muddy Waters, and raised the temperature. Monologist Jillian Erickson spun a multifaceted narrative, covering subjects ranging from noisy birds to assholes to volunteering at hospice. Commedia dell’arte clown Noel Williams filled the room with joy in her search for a real hug.
Burlesque performer Diva La Vida shimmied and shook and showed off her moves, more Fosse than Jagger, wearing a white trilby and not much more. Eileen Tull performed an original spoken-word piece entitled “A Selfie of my Lobotomy”; thick with internal rhyme and hip-hop rhythms, Tull’s stunning performance was as much Childish Gambino as it was Oscar Brown, Jr. In a sultry display of skill and elegance, Brywn Arlwyn fused elements of belly dance with modern moves in rhythmic alchemy.
In perhaps the most stunning performance of the evening, Greta Humphrey worked the aerial hoop. Often, a hoop acrobat will be suspended ten or more feet in the air, but Humphrey worked from a free-standing rigging point — think of a hoop mounted to a small swingset frame. Hoop work seems exponentially more difficult close to the ground compared to high in the air. As Humphrey moved among tableaux with strength and agility, she came perilously close to dashing her brains out on the concrete slab below. Elegant and exciting, Greta Humphrey’s aerial act left me with my heart in my mouth, but a smile on my face.
Diverse, daring, and delightful, Beast Women 2015 Spring Series brought a return to an old stomping ground, and a continuation of excellence one has come to expect from Chicago’s premier all-female cabaret.
3 1/2 STARS
(“Beast Women 2015 Spring Series” runs Saturdays at 10:30 PM, through May 16th (with the new talent showcase Beast Women Rising on Sunday, May 3, at 7:30 p.m.) at PROP THTR, 3502 N. Elston Ave., Chicago, IL).
Beast Women 2015 Spring Series performance images by Artistree Photography.