Shine Mionne (Cass King) runs her operation on a corset string, but she stands by her ideals: a true edgy burlesque show with no glitzy Broadway feel. The roof leaks, lights break, the performers don’t get paid sometimes, but everyone is family and a star, including the real big girl Lucy Von Doozy (Andra Boo Green), a little wildcat Feral (Roxie Moxie), who hisses and bites along with the janitor (John Woods) who never says a word.
Shine is busy changing stocking, gluing on pasties and avoiding calls from Chad-The-Douche-Bag, a financial officer from a Nuntucket bank, who is chasing her to collect late loan payments, when two newcomers show up at her door: an aspiring actor Frankie (Scott W. Abernethy) who claims being hired at a party last night and an NYU student Grace (Gemma Isaac), who is writing her senior thesis on “the challenging dominant gender convention of the 20th century alternative performance modalities” and wants to be an intern. “You don’t have to pay an intern,” she tells Shine, and gets hired on the spot. No sooner does Frankie find himself sweeping floors that horrified Grace pops out of the changing room in a costume made of pink balloons that, once popped, reveal silvery pasties the burlesque girls glued on her to start her burlesque internship. Of course, the two fall in lust with each other – and with Lucy Von Doozy, who teaches Grace how to be a strip star: “Everyone is sexy, everyone is a star. What makes us powerful is who we are.”
But even the fresh young juices can’t rejuvenate Shine’s troubled operation – the shows don’t sell and it’s clear that she can’t run her troupe the old-fashioned way. So when Richard Suit makes his second appearance (Shine threw him out the first time), she is inclined to listen to his proposition. The two strike a deal: she directs, he produces, she handles the talent, he takes care of advertisement – and they split the profit. That may sound good, but soon Richard starts coming up with his own ideas: Lucy’s too fat, the soundman is incompetent, and the show needs a midtown facelift. “This is burlesque, not a Broadway production,” Shine declares as she ditches Richard’s new numbers done in the best traditions of Britney Spears. “But your Wall Street types will run away the moment Lucy takes off her first glove!” Richard insists. Shine’s phone bursts out with Chad (the douche bag) custom phone ring – and she finds herself cornered. Will Shine and Richard manage their irreconcilable differences or will the last burlesque standing crumble to be consumed by urban gentrification?
Written by Cass King, John Woods and Sam Dulmage, The Shine Burlesque truly shined once it got over a few minor technical difficulties with uneven sound, a few wrong cues and sometimes uncooperative props (which, given the fact that Fringe only gives the performers 15 min to set up, is totally understandable). The saga is compelling, the costumes hilariously ostentatious, the lyrics funny even if sometimes silly, and the pasties tantalizing. If you enjoy striptease with a story to tell, definitely see it after a coupla drinks – and your burlesque experience will be completely authentic.