(MA) Not Your Mama's Broadway

by Stephanie Medeiros

All photographs by Moonbindi Photography

Show hosts (L to R): Elizabeth Joy, Fermosa, Samara

"Not Your Mama's Broadway", a fundraiser held at the YMCA Theater in Cambridge, MA, was inspired by classic Broadway and flavored with a taste of modern burlesque, belly dance, and vocal stylings of diversely talented individuals. Proceeds benefited

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS

. (Editors note: According to show producers, the event raised over $1100.) Producers Samara, Fermosa, and Elizabeth Joy love and are greatly inspired by theater, and it showed in the effort and passion put into this production.

While the venue is small, and quite warm, the staff tried to make the audience comfortable with fans and refreshments. The large raised stage was decorated with string lights and boas to suggest classic costuming. Show tunes filled the room, adding an upbeat feel preparing the audience for a fresh take on old favorites. The show started with an opening number that featured the entire cast, and each performer got their own spotlight parading around the audience, inviting us to enjoy the show.

First on stage was an enigmatic and haunting portrayal of the

Phantom of the Opera

and his beloved Christine. With gorgeous costuming, alluring belly dance staples with a touch of cabaret, and mesmerizing floor work, Alessandra kicked off the show with a bang almost as arresting as a falling chandelier.

Alessandra as the Phantom's Christine

The next act was a duet: Blitzen von Schtupp's sassy burlesque accompanied by Kylie Why, respectively stripping and singing to a Cabaret favorite, "Don't Tell Mama". It was a marvelous blend of belly dance accented with cheeky strip tease, highlighted by a snarky, well-executed song.

The audience was wowed once again by more talented vocalists Evan Tessier and Illana, with their chilling interpretation of

Sweeney

Todd's "Razors". The sword-style belly dance by Ki RaLuna in their trademark duet routines was in near-perfect synchronization. They danced a duel of precise, eerie kinship that was a spectacular complement to the vocals.

Deb and Elizabeth Joy provided some playful competition with their rendition of "Anything You Can Do". They tested each other's mettle with poles, swords, and wonderful veil choreography. It was one of the more fun and exhilarating numbers, and definitely a crowd pleaser.

Deb and Elizabeth Joy try and outdo one another

Another taste of burlesque, a la The Tasty Pasties, was a take on

Carousel

's "June is Busting Out All Over". Soft delicate parasols complemented the summery bright skirts, which came off in fantastic fashion.

If the West Side Story prologue is intense for you, the rendition in this show would have been mind-blowing. Two groups of different costumes and belly dance styles squared off over turf with attitude and style that had me at the edge of my seat. It was a faithful but refreshing redux of the classic number, full of personal style and clear fascination with the source material.

Fonda Feeling is a Jill-of-All-Trades, and her Amneris from Madam Butterfly was spot on. Starting in a beautiful kimono complimented by her flashy pink hair, she took the audience through a mix of stunning acrobatics, capped off with burlesque, and ending in a little black dress.

Kylie and Vivienne followed up with a humorous, highly-choreographed, and heavily costumed rendition of Cinderella's "The Step-Sisters Lament". Unlike anything else in the show, the performers danced, acted, and provided their own vocals throughout the number, which was incredibly impressive considering the complexity of their routine.

Next, DJ Chad provided the music and displayed his flow art with illuminated S-Blades. After some technical difficulties, he dazzled the audience with hypnotizing yet repetitive visuals and color to "What A Woman Wants" from Kinky Boots. And his red leather boots were quite kinky.

Evan Tessier again graced the stage, with Samara in tow, invoking Charlie Brown's dream of flying a kite. Funny, quirky, and well-choreographed, Samara started with a veil, and once it took to the skies (balcony) returned to her pop-n-lock style that is always impressive and inspiring. Help came from the balcony, when the poor kite was returned, and Evan finished after Samara's exit, sadly asking for it back.

Lemaris and her back-up crew came out like a firecracker, bright, exuberant, and loud enough to make the sound system crackle. With impressive kazoo skills and a laidback wind-down to act 2, Lemaris and her ladies ended the section with "All I Care About is Love" from Chicago.

Continuing with a more famous and widely-known Chicago number, the Betsi Feathers performed an amazing rendition of "Cell Block Tango". Using rolling props to suggest that they were locked away, these ladies executed each of their respective parts with oozing sex appeal and fierce girl power. The wonderful choreography included a universal male victim, and their sassy, badass burlesque made "Cell Block" more thrilling than ever.

Fermosa shared more of her diverse talents by accompanying Neylan's moving performance with a heart-wrenching, emotional delivery of

Jesus Christ Superstar

's "I Don't Know How to Love Him".

Fermosa and Neylan

With a bit of lounge lizard flair, Joanne and the Snow Moon Tribe showed off their American Tribal Style and singing talent with basket balancing as villagers in "Summertime", from Porgy and Bess. Snow Moon is always a pleasure to watch, either in duets or as an entire troupe.

Amy Macabre and Jareth put an interesting spin on "Send in the Clowns" (A Little Night Music), juxtaposing humor and bright costuming with the melancholy song selection. It was hit or miss with the audience, but their ending with a cake was the highlight of their piece.

Nefertiti and Evan offered a hula-inspired routine to

South Pacific

's "Some Enchanted Evening", focused on her dancing while her counterpart sat in a chair stage right. It would have been nice to see the two interact more during this otherwise lively and lovely dance.

Fiona and Carol closed the show with a fantastic rendition of "I Just Can't Do It Alone" (C

hicago

). Carol sang, narrating the act with her deceased sister, and Fiona delivers in spades. A fun, entertaining end to an all around well-produced and well-executed show.