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Saturday, December 1, 2007

Burlesque show making Xmas sexy with Santa's help

Burlesque PerformerSome people like to sing carols, decorate their homes or watch Christmas movies to get into the holiday spirit. For others, watching elves strip and Virgin Marys perform hip-hop does the trick.

People who are tired of the normal holiday routine and need something a little spicier to heat up their Christmas spirits might like Chico Cabaret's second annual Holiday Burlesque Show.

Last year Phil Ruttenburg, director and artistic coordinator at Chico Cabaret, brainstormed the idea of putting on a holiday variety show that would stand out from typical holiday productions.

"If you go anywhere in the community this time of year, somebody is doing a standard Christmas show. It's everywhere," Ruttenburg said.

So the idea for a holiday burlesque show was born, and with last year bringing nothing but sold-out shows, Ruttenburg knew he should bring it back for a second time, he said.

But viewers shouldn't let the word "burlesque" fool them, the Cabaret will not be temporarily transformed into a strip bar.

"It's not meant to be a sex show," he said. "A lot of people, especially young people, think of burlesque as 'Oh, it's a strip show.'"

But burlesque originated in the mid-19th century and incorporates comedy and other varieties of music. Though stripping is involved in some numbers, it is not the main attraction, it's all about the tease.

This year's show will feature a slightly edgier tease, but it's all making fun out of it, and the show is not sleazy or raunchy, Ruttenburg said.

The Holiday Burlesque Show will feature different acts made up of men and women ranging in styles of music and dance, all put together on a garland-trimmed, red and white covered stage.

Though not all acts in the show will be holiday themed, most of them are twists on old holiday favorites.

"Everyone knows 'I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas,' but we are doing 'I'm Dreaming of a White Trash Christmas,'" Ruttenburg said.

Another number, "Mr. Sandman," will feature women singing to a blown-up sex toy rather than to the Sandman himself.

Shannon Gans, Chico Cabaret company member and frequent choreographer, is in charge of putting together most of the dance numbers in the show. Though some will be reprises from acts in last year's show, everything else has been newly choreographed, Gans said.

"Our numbers feature everything from swing, Charleston, hip-hop, tap and hula dancing," she said.

One act Gans is working on is a sexy cops and robbers number. Expect the act, which involves women chases, handcuffs and stripper poles, to stir up laughs and even raise a few eyebrows.

Other numbers include a Christmas rap called "Xmas Hollis" and the Cabaret's own rendition of "Saturday Night Live's" skit Dick in a Box.

Though the show is aimed at mature audiences, Ruttenburg hopes the older audiences will appreciate his new spin on the beloved burlesque, he said.

Audience members can even get hot-buttered rum and peppermint schnapps with hot chocolate, which will be served as refreshments during the show.

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