A look back at Harry Potter and the Rhinestone Merkin

This month we’re taking a look back at a new monthly show that I think is genuinely very different and has the added bonus of showcasing new and upcoming talent.

House of Burlesque Fresh is the new HOB show in which graduates of the HOB school produce their own show either as individuals or as a group with support from Tempest Rose herself. There have now been 4 Fresh shows and I think that they have really been going from strength to strength.

So from the outset – I love this show, from the concept to the execution. The thing that all of these shows have in common is that each show is themed. It’s important to mention that so far, these shows have featured all female casts (although we will get onto Chain guy later). And that brings us on to last months show; Harry Potter and the Rhinestone Merkin.

Produced by (my personal girl crush), Bambi Bang Bang, it showcased some gorgeous new talent, had a nice diversity to it in terms of the differing acts and worked so well as a concept. Because Harry Potter exists in its own world – there were lots of nice bits and pieces that added to the show and they played so beautifully on that sense of nostalgia that an audience feels for the Harry Potter universe. As the audience came in, they could be sorted into their Hogwarts Houses by a roving sorting hat. There were other bits that worked so well with a burlesque twist including the Audience participation Tri-Wizard tournament and the use of Harry Potter Puppet Pals which if you’ve not heard of before, or had forgotten – I strongly urge you to rediscover on YouTube at your earliest convenience.

In terms of performance, it was a fully burlesque line up beyond the host’s opening number. In other shows that can feel a little bit samey – but I think that within the theme, there was so much scope for differing acts. There were relatively conceptually straight forward acts like portrayals of Ginny Weasley by the stunning Ginger Lust and Bellatrix Lestrange played with so much raw sexuality by Jessica Hussey. More left of field ideas like the totally compelling Miranda Lee’s Fat Lady of Gryffindor Tower act and the wonderfully adorable Dobby the House elf act by Pixie Rocket. Bonnie Knockers provided an amazing tribute to Molly Weasley with the normal sense of humour and wit that we have come to expect from her. The whole night was held together so tightly by Bambi’s irresistible charm and I also want to mention the gorgeous choreography of the opening and closing numbers by Gracie Disgrace.

The political was covered by one of the guest acts, Lily Snatchdragon who performed her Cho Chang act– she gets her own paragraph because this act was so affecting. Of course, it’s occurred to me before that Cho Chang is a really stupid and inaccurate name for a character, but I am ashamed to admit that it’s never occurred to me how much of a lazy trope that character is. This is burlesque as it should be: educational, thought provoking, strong and visually beautiful. I’ve been asked to mention how amazing chain guy –who held the chains that held Cho/Lily – was in this act. He managed to be on stage looking intense while not taking attention away from the performer, which was what he was meant to be doing. Smashed it.

Stage Manager Mention: We all know that Stormina loves good stage management; well done to Goddess, Persia Kitt who met Stormina’s stringent standards.            


Stormina’s top 3

3. Pixie Rocket – One of the strongest debut performances I’ve ever seen. I felt this act was cleverly designed to play to Pixie’s strengths and character. It was a joy to watch.

2. Not my daughter you bitch/Molly Wobbles Molly Wobbles Molly wobbles – Bonnie Knocker’s Molly Weasley act. The best thing about that act was how Bonnie explored the changing roles of the character (and of all women everywhere, no?) and by contrasting those roles in quick succession, using some genius lip sync, really highlighted the complexity of all Molly’s and women’s roles in general. (Am I reading too much into that?)

1. Of course, it would be totally ignorant of me to suggest that Lily’s was the only political act of this show. Every single act had a really strong female message – I mean could we expect anything else from a House of Burlesque production? If the act of burlesque itself (women in control of their sexuality and sharing that with an audience on their own terms) is political, then this show pushed that to it’s extreme. Just by default of the number of strong female characters with such confidence and strong ownership of their own sexualities. In particular, I think Ginger Lust and Jessica Hussey have got this covered in terms of owning their sexuality and making the audience understand the privilege of watching them perform.