Wednesday, 24 July 2013

The Brahaha Broad Brings Burlesque Back

Comic Capers and Sexy Sirens

Cleaving to the comedy rather than the cabaret scene, and featuring an old school combo of strippers and stand-ups, Kitty Cointreau's Brahaha stood out in 2010's Fringe, the year when cabaret broke.
“I wanted to create a show that was different from the majority of other cabaret shows out there,” says Kitty Cointreau. “I love comedy and was a stand-up for a short while and wanted to bring together the two things that entertain me the most – great stand-up and gorgeous burlesque. We did face criticism at first for bringing the two styles together, but burlesque originally shared the stage with stand-up, so it seemed fitting to return to the roots of vaudeville. Two years later, BraHaHa is still alive, kicking, teasing and twirling and I’m proud to put my name to it.”

The Brahaha has established itself across the country, and at Zoo during Fringe 2010: Cointreau’s ability to pick both local and national performers allowed it to capitalise on the energy of the grass-roots movement and the rise of more professional acts. For 2011, she has added a second show to her portfolio.

Kitty & Jonny’s Speakteasy is an experimental rock n’ roll musical comedy show that I share with my friend Duncan Oakley who is performing as Jonny Wild,” she says. “My burlesque is totally integrated and the tease is carried throughout the show until the big finale. It is a real synergy of my burlesque and Duncan’s musicianship.”

What sets Cointreau apart from the majority of performers and programmers is her interest in adapting and respecting the past. “My grandmother was a burlesque act and ENSA entertainer during World War II. She was also a contortionist and performed as 'the girl in the goldfish bowl' and did all kinds of sideshow routines. She was a great inspiration to me,” she affirms. This family history has given her a broader appreciation of what burlesque means. “I’m a great believer that burlesque should be about laughing too,” she notes. The revelation that she could connect her enthusiasms for burlesque and comedy came later. 

“It wasn’t until 2006/07 when I went to see The Candybox shows in Birmingham that I realised there was a burgeoning scene for this kind of art and an audience clearly crying out for more. I wanted to be a part of it. Seeing that show was a real turning point for me.”

The introduction of the Speakteasy marks a new phase in Cointreau’s career. “The BraHaHa takes a vaudeville approach: Programming the show every day and picking exactly the right mix of guest acts from award-winning stand-ups, to burlesque darlings, to great magicians to music acts and circus artists, is the key. Speakteasy is my rock n’ roll ‘toddler’ that allows me to work more collaboratively. The two shows offer a different style and tone to the fringe audience.”

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