[THEATRE REVIEW] SHIMMERY BURLESQUE @ The Athenaeum Theatre Review (2024)

Saucy and stylish, creative and captivating.

Such is a very special burlesque show that breaks new ground in a long-standing, traditional form of entertainment that can be traced back to the 1840s.

Created by women and featuring only women, aged from 23 to 56, Shimmery Burlesque is the result of a long labour of love and it is obvious.

This is a production with much sizzle and spark.

Featuring a soulful songstress and classic tunes from the likes of Sinatra and Elvis, behind the singing, dancing and acrobatics is a true to life narrative thread.

We are privy to more than 200 stunning, sensual and luxurious hand-made costumes.

Think gowns, negligees, knickers, bras and G-strings, lace and ribbon, long gloves and stockings, eye-catching boas, headdresses and parasols, glittering rhinestones and alluring tassels.

The story is that of Shimmery Burlesque’s writer, director and producer Holly Mouat and her mother.

Kerrie Schultz (known in the show as Lady Shimmery and played by cabaret singer Abbey Paige Williams) was a graphic designer who moved into fashion and bridal couture.

But it was a trip to Paris in 2010 that Kerrie took with Holly that changed both their fates.

They were entranced by the opulence of French cabaret, igniting Holly’s passion for burlesque, which she began performing in 2016.

Kerrie made Holly’s costumes and from that Shimmery Couture was born.

Meanwhile, Holly spent five years developing the concept for the Shimmery Burlesque stage show, all attire for which Kerrie meticulously crafted.

Further, many of the pieces in the set are from Kerrie’s original sewing studio.

Inspired by the romance of old-fashioned dressing rooms, adorned with Singer sewing machines and Hollywood style mirrors, the offering begins in Lady Shimmery’s workroom.

That is where Abbey Paige Williams sets the scene for the introduction of 19 other performers – the showgirls – of all shapes and sizes, brassy and brazen.

With smiles permanently affixed to their immaculately made-up faces, they proceed to parade and cavort, captivating our attention and igniting our imagination.

They are cheeky and cheery, often seductively disrobing while retaining some modesty. The performers give it their all throughout.

The story that unfolds is how Lady Shimmery fell hard for the art of the tease.

The second half is focused on her time in the City of Love, in parks and gardens, mixing with painters and attending cabarets.

From bathtub to aerial acrobatics, from soul and ragtime, to pop, jazz and can can, Shimmery Burlesque has it all and then some.

I can’t sing the praises of Abbey Paige Williams highly enough. What a silky voice!

The song choices are inspired, the choreography by Kimera Diamond and Maple Rose masterful, the patter heartfelt and personal.

Raunchy though it undoubtedly is, the vignettes have an intimate feel and we – the audience – respond in kind, as we are encouraged to show our appreciation.

Jason Bovaird’s lighting design elevates the spectacle and helps set the mood of the respective routines.

Shimmery Burlesque is artistic and arresting, an aural and visual feast, which leaves you feeling good.

It is one to celebrate and savour. For more information, go to https://www.burlesquemelbourne.com

Review by Alex First Photography by Beth Watkins