Happy Halloween!

Dear Constant Reader,

Here’s a little treat to celebrate my favorite holiday!

We’ve only got two performances of Wrathskellar Tales left: tonight and Saturday!

M2

 

 

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Published in: on 31 October 2016 at 2:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Return to The Wrathskellar

Dear Constant Reader,

The Wrathskellar reopens for business tonight and every night through Halloween!

We’ve added a few more tantalizing artifacts and ephemera to the show and another act entirely. And delightful cocktails to supplement the treats in the bar.
(click for a more readable version)

We’ve been getting so great reviews, like:

“This was amazing. It was beautiful and haunting and intriguing. I, seriously, lost track of time and wish I had more time in the show. Go early if you can is my advice. There’s so much to see.”

“…this is the best burlesque I have seen in Boston. The performers are engaged, clearly having fun, professional, and entertaining.”

“Just went and saw this show today! It was awesome. Get tickets and go if you can. Share around otherwise, let’s get word out. Burlesque haunted experiences for all!”

“I was expecting a “Sleep No More”-like immersive theater experience, and it absolutely delivered. However, I was not expecting it to be so quietly disturbing.”

We’ve added one more show on November 5th (remember, remember…). It will be the last chance to see Wrathskellar Tales in this setting. Ever. Really.

If you’re intrigued by what went into creating this unique and complex show (and want to know all the secrets), please join us for Inside “Wrathskellar Tales” on November 4th. Guests will get a guided tour of the installation and participate in a Q&A with the cast. And then you’ll have one last chance to see the show the next night.

Last night we filmed the acts for posterity. In November the performance spaces cease to exist and will never return, and many of the acts cannot be performed outside of this setting.

Here’s The Diva in her Boudior preparing to bathe as her Maid looks on anxiously.
(photo by Susanna)

M2

Published in: on 27 October 2016 at 11:41 am  Leave a Comment  
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Aftermath

Dear Constant Reader,

Just a little update on the post-flood situation at The Wrathskellar.

Saturday morning, bright and early, the landlord had plumbers in the space, putting in a drainage system and pumps again the wall where the flooding started. When we arrived in the early afternoon, the rest of the space was wet, but there was no longer any standing water. This is something of a miracle as there had been multiple inches of water in the bar 12 hours earlier.

A bunch of people brought box fans and Scratch bought one of those industrial floor driers and we set to work getting things dry and clean. Resetting the spaces was pretty quick after that. Thanks to everyone’s quick work Friday night, nothing was damaged.

The worst casualty came from a container of dumpling sauce leftover from dinner. Costumes got piled on top of it in haste and some of it spilled onto my corset and Pearl’s feather duster. Fortunately, I have excellent stain-removing skills (take my class on costume care at BurlyCon!). I should have taken a before and after picture of the corset, because it was that dramatic.

The kitchen couldn’t really be up and running properly because the plumbers were continuing to work even after the house opened for the night. Despite the limited menu, we introduced signature cocktails!

The plumbers continued to work after the house opened and we held the show until they were done and out. Fortunately, we only had to start about 5 minutes late. However, the doors to the building were open all day, both because the plumbers were toting things in and out all day and to get better airflow to help dry the floors. The result was the iciest bathwater in my tub ever. It was awfully hard to look like I was enjoying splashing around.

Sunday was a mercifully normal show (other than a glitch with the audio player in my boudoir. Again.). Best moment: I was walking into my boudoir near the end of the show when one of the guests approached, and with head bowed humbly, offered me a ring. I took it haughtily, put it on, and gave her one of The Diva’s tokens.

And now we have two blissful days of downtime to finally rest!

M2

Published in: on 24 October 2016 at 3:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Unexpected Events

Dear Constant Reader,

I didn’t expect to be writing to you for I didn’t think there would be anything noteworthy. I hoped the show last night would be uneventful. Today I expected to be recovering from weeks of hard work by sleeping in, relaxing, and perhaps taking care of some of the little things that have been falling by the wayside during the Wrathskellar build.

Last night things were completely uneventful, for me anyway, until half an hour before the end of the show. I went into my dressing room to discover that Pearl was helping one of the maids (aka stage hands) pick out pasties. This is how I discovered that Brigitte had had a family emergency* and left early in the show. Other cast members had been filing in during her numbers as best they could all night. I had been so involved in my own thing that I never realized. Honestly, I’m glad I didn’t know until so late in the show, which reduced the freaking out, but gave me enough time to prepare myself for the finale being short a person.

That over with, I was looking forward to greeting some folks I knew in the bar and then going home for some cat snuggling and greatly-needed sleep.

That’s when Scratch told me the streets were flooded. We were in a basement. There was water pouring into the kitchen area. Like, broken pipe levels of water.

After cutting the bar entertainments short and sending the patrons on their way, the cast and crew mobilized. We frantically began moving everything out of the kitchen area, but the water kept coming. The water filled the bar and started running down the left-hand hallway into the performance space. We started clearing set dressing as fast as possible from the path of the water. The water kept coming. Running into The Sewing Room, then The Lost Girl’s Garret, into the Left Luggage Office. It started pouring into the back dressing room, and into The Contessa’s Seraglio.

Contrast this picture with the one from opening night.

Thanks to herculean effort from everyone, cast, crew, staff, and a couple of volunteers, we got everything, including the draperies that create the spaces, up off the floor. We had a ton of electronics that needed to be moved to safety. I don’t know how, but even the piano got moved out of the flood area and up onto blocks.

After everything was safe, the water removal kicked into high gear. Most of the cast was released at this point. Heroic effort was made by those who remained: Scratch, Hunter, Mr. Cleave (one of the performers in the bar), Marek (a frequent volunteer) & his dad, Matt (our occasional trumpet player) who had just come to enjoy the show, and Betty. I am so grateful to all of them for their hard work.

We had an industrial shop-vac and the water was deep enough in some places that it could be bailed with improvised buckets. Scratch uncovered what we hoped was a drain, but turned out to be an old sump pit. Marek drove Betty to her house to get her sump pump (I miss the days when Home Depot was open 24 hours…), which Hunter got up and running.

Around 1:30am when Scratch, Hunter, Betty, and I called it quits, the water was noticeably lower.

I’m told that there’s a plumbing crew in there now, doing arcane flood prevention and water draining things. In a few hours we’ll go over, assess the damage, and hopefully clean up, wash the floors, repaint where necessary, and reset all the spaces.

You know what they say about the show going on…

M2* She’s fine. Everybody involved is fine. She’ll be back tonight.

Published in: on 22 October 2016 at 11:06 am  Leave a Comment  
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Wrathskellar Tales Opens

Dear Constant Reader,

We opened Wrathskellar Tales last night. I’m beyond exhausted and not even sure where to begin. Forgive me if I ramble.

It’s not a traditional burlesque show. We (and by we, I mean mostly Scratch and a very small crew) turned the space that will be The Thalia, a long-neglected basement, into “backstage” at The Wrathskellar. This was a massive build, bigger than anything we’d ever done before, and a lot of things couldn’t really be stage-faked, since the guests can explore and rummage through things. Besides the performances space, we also needed to redo the bathroom (it was so gross), create a box office, a coat check, a bar/kitchen/music hall area, and get a piano down the stairs.

This has been so time consuming. Most of the cast put in long days and/or evenings doing whatever we could, often when we were supposed to be rehearsing. I know it was making Scratch crazy (“A performer’s job is to perform!”), but he couldn’t turn down the help.

Instead of a linear show with acts that appear on stage one-by-one with props and set pieces being moved around, we have a number of performance areas, each of which has to be dressed appropriately. And we need to salt the place with interesting tidbits to intrigue the guests. I’m really grateful to the skilled artists who helped make the place beautiful (for some sense of beautiful) as well as the cast who took initiative in creating the decor for their spaces.

Just to give you an idea, here’s Betty as The Contessa lounging in her Seraglio.

I’d say we were about 90% ready when we opened last night. There are a bunch of things we wanted to happen that got shelved for now. Don’t worry — we’ll be putting them in as we go. Because the build went so long and there were so many complications, we only got to try out the tech on Wednesday and last night was the first time with audience. When you’re doing an interactive show, it doesn’t matter how much you rehearse and try to prepare, everything changes when you bring in the people. There was a fair bit of winging it.

The biggest issues I was aware of last night were definitely audio. Every space has its individual soundscape and audio gear. We synchronize our watches and all hit “play” at the same time. There’s no way to run the music in a centralized way (not on our budget). Personally, I had several problems in my Boudoir. Thank goodness Hunter was around to fix my speakers early on, but there was nothing that could be done when my player froze, other than reboot it (I don’t know how long that took, but it felt like years). But that pales in comparison to Devora, who had no working sound in either of her performance areas. Because she’s just that good, she ran her numbers in silence.

I have every confidence that these kinks will all get ironed out post-haste.

The best part of last night for me was finally performing with my bathtub! I’ve been working on this act for more than a year — getting the tub in performance condition took longer than choreographing. Scratch has been a huge help in making this dream of mine come true. Not only has he lent his tech expertise and skills, he kept encouraging me, even when it was too overwhelming.

No pictures of me yet, so if you want to see me in my Catherine D’Lish and Glorious Pasties splendor, you’ll need to see the show.

We’ve got three more performances this week and five next week. Please join us for burlesque, creepiness, great food, live music, mysteries, magic, and more atmosphere than you can handle. Tickets are available at wrathskellar.com. There are a limited number of tickets per entrance time, so don’t wait.

Down we go!

M2

Published in: on 21 October 2016 at 2:58 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Wrathskellar Returns

Dear Constant Reader,

The Wrathskellar will once again be open in October, but it won’t be what you expect…

Instead of a night of entertainment in our haunting cabaret, our delicious guests are invited backstage to explore the labyrinth of personal spaces and spy on the denizens in their private moments. Perhaps you will even have an intimate encounter with one of us.

There are very few allowed into The Wrathskellar each night. It will sell out, so get your tickets with alacrity.

Today you are in luck because for 24 hours only, we’re offering discounted tickets. you can secure your admission *and* save a few dollars.

M2

Published in: on 7 September 2016 at 11:46 am  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip!

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! The Boston BeauTease are wrapping up our month of The Wrathskellar this weekend (you have 3 more chances to see it!). Last night was a little more problematic than we wanted it to be.

First off Scratch made us this wonderful glowing sign to hang in the mouth of the alley.
…and then discovered that the electrical outlet in the alley needed to be turned on… and no one in the building knew how.

And it was raining in The Diva’s dressing room. Really. First it was just some water on the floor when I arrived, and then there were few drips from the ceiling while I was getting ready. Before Act I started, it was well and truly raining in one corner.

But those issues paled in comparison to our Wench Scarlet being so ill that she rushed off to urgent care about half a hour before the house opened.

If you’ve seen the show, you know the Wenches are vital. They are ushers, stage hands, actors, and dancers. And we just lost one.

That brings us to today’s tip…

Don’t panic.

I know it’s practically a cliche, but they are wise words. Panic kills. Be calm and think through a potential disaster instead of losing your head.

The cast rallied with Scarlet’s departure. Jet stepped into her part in “Our Lady of the Underground”. Blanche took her place in “Kiss of Fire”. Brigitte filled in for “Le Port Amsterdam”. I’d like to point out that we have no understudies. All of these ladies took on their new roles with maybe 10 minutes of rehearsal each. Hazel, who is in all three acts, calmly taught & guided.

The Wenches and Klaus worked out amongst themselves how to divide up the remaining work, so that everything got moved, cleared, placed, and done seamlessly. At one point during the performance I suddenly realized that I hand Scarlet my boa. I prepared to improvise and there was Blanche, ready to take it. All night long, whenever we checked in with them, whatever it was had already been taken care of.

With such a huge issue solved, it was a small matter to buy some battery lights at the dollar store for the sign and to rearrange my dressing room to avoid the deluge (which ceased by the end of Act II).

Bonus tip: Surround yourself with good people.
My fellow cast members, you all are rock stars. Thank you for making the show possible last night.

M2

Published in: on 30 October 2015 at 11:41 am  Leave a Comment  
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Audiences Behaving Badly

Dear Constant Reader,

Theatre etiquette is fairly simple: shut off your phones and don’t talk loudly during the show. Don’t do anything to distract the performers or annoy the other audience members. A burlesque show has slightly different rules, in that you’re supposed to cheer and make other appreciative noises during the performance, but, really, the other rules apply too. Common courtesies will make sure the experience is enjoyable for everyone, fellow audience members and perfomers.

You know the saying about a few rotten apples? We had that experience at The Wrathskellar on Saturday with some disruptive audience members. I wish I could say it was an isolated incident, but we also had similar problems the previous Saturday. The Wrathskellar is a particularly atmospheric show and boorish behavior can shatter the mood.

It was mostly people at the expensive cabaret tables up front. Maybe they felt they were special. Maybe they couldn’t see the other audience members in the dark. Perhaps they confused the theatre with their living room. I’m sure the woman who kept putting her feet up on the footlights was under that delusion.

We had people having conversations at speaking volume throughout the show. We had people shouting their “witty” comments at the performers almost continuously, especially during the particularly dramatic or tense moments.

We even had one person on her phone. Despite the signs in the lobby and on the theatre doors and the preshow announcement asking people to shut off their phones, she just had to make a call during the show. Scratch, in character as Bücher, had to ask “Is our show interrupting your PHONE CONVERSATION?”, to cheers from the rest of the audience. Later, at intermission the offender complained that Scratch had “embarrassed me while I was on the phone”. Seriously?

When we’re putting on one of our usual revues, the MC or even the dancers can shut down an obnoxious audience member if necessary. In The Wrathskellar we are hobbled by the fact that we are playing characters and following a script. It’s really hard to get an audience member to just shut up and let everyone else enjoy the show when you’re in character and performing a choreographed routine. We tried. You would think someone would get the hint if a performer shushes them during a dance or the host bluntly tells them to shut up. And even more so when the rest of the audience applauds that action. Unfortunately some people are beyond oblivious.

If one would like a private performance at which one could shout, chatter, or ignore the performers as much as one liked, we would be happy to oblige for a mere several thousand dollars. Please contact our management for details.

We had audience members who were upset that these selfish idiots were ruining their experience. I am truly sorry and wish there was more we could have done. I wish we had security or bouncers, but the theatre doesn’t supply any and we don’t have the staff — our ushers are also performers. Please, if you’re at one of our shows and people are talking or being inappropriate, you as a ticket holder are fully empowered to tell these jerks to shut up. You have every right to enjoy the show.

Now, behaving appropriately doesn’t mean that you have to sit in silence while you watch the performance. You can cheer, applaud, ooh and aah, sing along during the audience participation section (you’ll know when it is; it’s really obvious), laugh at the funny bits (there are funny bits), gasp in horror, gasp in awe, sob quietly, &c. That sort of thing.

We want *everyone* to enjoy the show, not just a few assholes at the expense of everyone else.

M2

Published in: on 26 October 2015 at 4:47 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Wrathskellar Preview 10/8

Dear Constant Reader,

Last night The Wrathskellar opened with a preview. I think I speak for all the BeauTease when I say that we’d been waiting for this moment for years. We’ve really missed our decrepit cabaret.

I will admit to being more nervous than usual. We hadn’t yet had a complete rehearsal with all costumes, all props, all lighting, and all of Bücher’s interstitial bits. But that’s why our first show is a preview. We open for real tonight.

I thought the show was a little rocky here and there as we figured some things out. I discovered that in full blackout, after just being in bright light, I can’t see the edge of the stage. Thank goodness Alice was there to grab my arm! There were a few other issues, but I’m sure they will all get smoothed out.

The audience seemed to like the show. Sometimes it’s hard to tell because this isn’t your usual burlesque show with lots of audience hooting & hollering. And more than liking it, they seemed to *get* it. We’re telling a story, a rather dark one. Hint: keep an eye on the footlights — they illuminate (pun intended) whether things are going well or awry for our characters.

Here’s a little backstage peek: that’s me as The Diva in my private dressing room. And just to keep this all glamourous… the door to my dressing room (the tech closet 11 months out of the year) won’t stay open by itself. I’d rather not be cut off from the rest of the world until it’s absolutely necessary, so I wedged the door open with something from the closet — a rusty curtain counterweight. No one warned me that the theatre was open to patrons until it suddenly was. In my haste to move the extremely heavy thing and stash it behind the draperies in the room, I slashed my finger open. Yay! At least it was my ring finger, one of the fingers Willy Barrett used to say that you could live without. And I avoided bleeding onto my ivory ostrich boa.

Tonight we don’t go on until 10pm. See, there are actually THREE* shows using the theatre this month. The Woman in Black is Mondays through Wednesdays and The Wrathskellar is Fridays through Sundays. However, on Fridays and Saturdays Shit-Faced Shakespeare is on before us.

So, that’s three shows worth of props, costumes, and set pieces, mostly ours. Just to give you an idea of how much that is, The Wrathskellar has a dozen performers, many of whom average four costume changes, and several very big, awkward, and somewhat delicate set pieces, like a chaise, a dressing table with mirror, and a dollhouse. The Woman in Black also has a couple of large set pieces. I don’t know if you’ve ever been backstage at the Davis Square Theatre, but it is not a large space. I hope this works out for all concerned, especially since one of Shakespeare‘s actors will be drunk.

I hope to see all of you Constant Readers in the audience this month! And don’t forget to read Bücher’s note before you arrive!

M2

*really more than that but we won’t count The Teaseday Club, the B.A.B.E. Striptober Showcase or the two other shows that Scratch isn’t producing, because they’re all one-night stands.

Published in: on 9 October 2015 at 2:47 pm  Leave a Comment  
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An Exhausting Weekend

Dear Constant Reader,

It has taken me this long to report on my weekend as I was completely wiped out! It was a great weekend, but a strenuous one.

Friday night The Boston BeauTease were engaged to perform at Rufflecon. I knew it was an “alternative fashion” event, but that did not prepare me for the acres of ruffles, lace, and petticoats worn by the attendees. It was predominantly Lolita fashions with a smattering of goth, steampunk, and Victoriana styles. I wish I had taken pictures to share with you the remarkable confections I saw walking around. To the right is a random photo from their fashion show, just to give a small idea.

We had been asked for a show that was a little Halloween-ish, for elaborate costumes, and for a male stripteaser. So, we brought along a couple of numbers from The Wrathskellar (preview tomorrow!), some of our finest costumes, and the performer who plays Klaus in The Wrathskellar, under the nom de strip of “Charles River”.

The audience was marvelous! We had a wonderful time performing for them. In particular, they went completely berserk over “Charles”. To no one’s surprise they loved Devora’s “Creepy Doll”. It was a perfect choice for this ruffle & doll-loving crowd. Betty & I got a lot of appreciation for our costumes (made by her, by me, and by Catherine D’Lish). You can see Betty’s new Theda Bara-inspired costume at The Wrathskellar. It’s quite remarkable.

It was a midnight show, so morning came very early. After a delightful breakfast, we took a turn through the vendors’ room, where I felt rather underdressed with only my single modest crinoline. I might have acquired a new tea wallet…

As much as we might have liked to stay in the fantasyland of ruffles and frills, we had to head back to Boston to get ready for load-in for The Wrathskellar first thing Sunday morning.

My day started with a private fan dance lesson with Elsa Riot at B.A.B.E. and then Eva (aka Blanche) arrived to help me pack up all the costumes & props and load up the car.

So much work had to be done, like building and painting stage platforms, hanging lights, making new curtains &c. It was all hands on deck and all the cast & crew pitched in. I’m not entirely certain what all was going on in the theatre as I had my own little project.

The tech closet had to be magically transformed into The Diva’s dressing room. I opened the door and my heart sank. It was full of boxes, lighting and sound gear, and all sorts of junk. I metaphorically rolled up my sleeves and got to work. I only thought to take a picture *after* I moved the boxes of our lighting gear out, cleared a shelf, and removed some of the 50 or so microphone stands.

You aren’t going to believe the transformation. That is, if you’re one of the lucky guests invite into my dressing room for a chat…

And after all that hard physical labor, we still had to have rehearsal. Well, that’s why they call it “hell week”. Ah, well, as they say, I can sleep when I’m dead.

I hope to see you in the audience. It makes all the work worthwhile.

M2

Published in: on 7 October 2015 at 4:00 pm  Comments (2)  
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