It doesn't really matter what I think of the Can Can's Romeo & Juliet. Judging by a nearby bachelorette party's obvious desire to grope the lats and deltoids of Can Can host Jonny Boy, I'd say that the show—which will be running (or, I guess, gyrating) at Pike Place Market through April 29—is the hottest bit of touristy burlesque happening in town right now.
The dancers at the Can Can occasionally slip thoughtful modern and classical movement into what is ultimately a striptease, so when I walked in last Saturday night with a few guests, I was hoping to see an interesting (if ridiculously randy) adaptation of Shakespeare's romantic tale of woe. And I did get a little bit of that.
Fair Elise's Juliet was fine and impressively athletic, but she wasn't really sticking the landings. Jonny Boy (who played several characters) was a semi-funny MC. The room erupted with earnest, heterosexual, white-lady lust when he debuted as Paris at the Capulet ball wearing nothing but a peacock G-string.
The two standout performers were Suga' Shay and Shadou, who played Tybalt and Mercutio, respectively. They were alluring, charming, and playfully combative. Their dancing talents shined toward the end, when they dueled each other for three minutes straight on a spinning stripper pole designed to look like a giant, silver cross.
And there were a few funny, multilevel pop references. At one point, Romeo (Glory Joel) stands in the middle of a stage washed in blue light, his open linen shirt blowing in fake wind. The scene recalls Leonardo DiCaprio's cheesy "flying" scene in Titanic, which recalls DiCaprio's cringe-inducing performance as Romeo in Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet. Otherwise, the 1.5-hour show is only related to its source material in the loosest of terms.
The choreography isn't the best I've seen from the Can Can crew. However, the real joy of this show played out between the large bachelorette party, a "dirty 30" birthday party, and the glittering cast. Listening to the self-appointed deputies of both parties talk over the performance, shush each other, perform their desire for the dancers, and shout like country uncles watching a cage match was funnier than anything.
As Juliet brought to her lips that fateful bottle of amber colored fluid, one of the parties in the audience let out a sustained "woo!"—as if Juliet were a sorority pledge taking a pull from a fifth of Malibu.
Did the group really think Juliet was drinking the potion to get hammered like they were? I want to believe they knew Juliet was making a mistake that would ultimately lead to a tragic double suicide, because it would make their cheering a delightfully cynical celebration of the death wish that courses through us all—a wish many of us make manifest by drinking booze and eating sweets to excess. Speaking of which: I got pretty hammered on a well-balanced, sweetly spicy cocktail called "Violent Delights," knocked back like five of those delicious little lemon zest ricotta beignets, and regretted exactly none of it.
So go if you're into standard burlesque stuff, and hope you wind up in the eye of a storm of bachelorette parties.