Entertainment Hive 2020

Marissa Burgess brings her untamed, extravagant cabaret home

By Honey B

Marissa Burgess, the longest serving star in the  Moulin Rouge's  120-year history, stars in the burlesque extravaganza,  Cabaret de Paris  at  Her Majesty’s Theatre  for two performances only on  Saturday, September 19,  and  Sunday, September 20.  Australian-born and trained, Marissa is a legendary showgirl who became the toast of Paris with a string of accolades to her name and the subject of many French TV talk shows and US documentaries. "Cabaret de Paris  includes all the magic of a lavish French cabaret show with gorgeous dancers, beguiling music, and an array of international guest artists including aerialists, pole dancers, illusionists and of course the famous French cancan dancers,'' Burgess says. "While people are bogged down in daily life and now reality TV, cabaret is kicking all that in the teeth with untamed extravagance. Burgess has laid down the gauntlet for the Adelaideans to see her spectacular show, Cabaret de Paris - it's not to be missed. Read more of what she has to say below. How does a Tasmanian girl get to the Moulin Rouge? "I started work in Tasmania, but I'm actually from Newcastle and born in Darwin! A mining kid. "Newcastle being such a hub for high quality dance training there is a long heritage of Aussie dancers from Newcastle who have gone onto working all over the world. "Miss Tessa Maunder OAM was connected to Miss Bluebell from the Lido and the connections grew from there.'' What kept you performing at the Moulin Rouge for so many years - you are the longest serving star? "Finally arriving at my dream job and the satisfaction of keeping that role alive and being in the footsteps of such greats as Josephine Baker and Mistinguett is a duty I was happy to perform. "Performing for 2000 people nightly, over 16 years, knowing each audience member is the first time they come to see the show and the respect we show them by treating every show as the first performance keeps it fresh.'' How wonderful does it feel to come home and perform in Cabaret de Paris? "It's yet another dream come true! My life has gone exactly to the design I made a 11 years of age! "To be among my own people yet bring the sum of my experience from Paris to our theatres is an accomplishment I hold dear.'' Tell us about this show – there are cancan dancers, magicians, guest stars and more ... "In the style of a true Parisian Revue show, we have something for everyone. "It's a variety show, but all our acts have a French theme or angle. "By nature of this revue however the showgirls are the featured stars and the supreme international talents we have among our  dancers, demonstrate that dancers are the worthy leaders of the "feather show". They are specialists in their own right and as a corps, make a formidable force of fabulousness.'' Can you tell us about the choreography by Todd Patrick? "Having the craft of Todd Patrick is a must for this show to be authentic. "He, as I before him, have cut our teeth in Paris and know the tricks of the trade to making a dance routine into a Parisian Showgirl delight of charm and sophistication. "One doesn't know why the chorography appears so different, it's hard to pinpoint the nuance. You may have seen feather girls before, but not with this degree of gloss. The resounding comment I get from audience members when I meet them, is the show looks "so professional!"  Well, Todd and I simply don't know any other way!'' You must have some amazing costumes as well. "The costumes are so important to the show. In order for us to have the best costumes, we must first have the best dancers. "They must be a hybrid between a ballet dancer and a super model. Full of elegance and grace, but with a good deal of sass too. "Only this dancer can sustain the demands of the showgirl costume. Which on the wrong person can look a little uncouth! They can be huge, or tiny. Generally the tiny ones are the most costly. "Crystals deftly placed in strategic places as if floating on air is an artisanal skill in itself. Feathers are not just poked in a hat, they have to fall in just the right way as if held there by magic. "The can can frocks are not only heavy and difficult to wield and dance in , but are any dressmakers nightmare to make there's simply so much frill! "But all must highlight the beauty of the dancer and showcase the art of the female form. "Don't forget our boys however, strapping lads who flatter and support us and tear up can can acrobatics too.'' Do you have a favourite part of the show that you get to watch? "My favourite part, (which I'm not in ) is Baby Buns. It's a Todd Patrick masterpiece. Simple, in its moves, yet requires the ladies to lay on the charm. "Much of the routine is showcasing the length and lines of the legs and creating stunning poses with their incredibly trained bodies. And their heels are as high as high heels can be! "It's a routine that audience love to watch and be mesmerized, but it goes further for it is the industry peers favourite, and the performers too. Not in your question, but my favourite part of my show, is my burlesque strip. It's a slow tease with a good deal of humour and curiosity. "I love the audience reaction to it because it has a surprise ending. Plus it embodies the charm of the show.'' Adelaideans love their cabaret - what is your favourite part to perform and why? "I am so excited to come to a super-savvy audience. "I am aware of the cabaret lovers in Adelaide and it was only a matter of time before we played there. "I'd love to come back and do the famous festival one year and I hope they remember Marissa Burgess when I do. "I had the choice of any form of dance as a career upon graduating. Cabaret chose me, because I'm kind of made for it. "I felt dance should be uncomplicated freedom, and I find that in cabaret, there's that need for skill but we don't take ourselves seriously. Plus the costuming and production being at the height of glamour for any genre, it's where my heart lies. "It's opulent and crazy, with the wink of the eye and pop of a hip.'' Has it been a dream come true travelling the world and what do you do when you get home to Australia? "I have never paid to travel anywhere, and I've been everywhere. "As a child in Newcastle I knew I had to see it all, and felt hemmed in there. So this job has afforded me much, not just in job satisfaction but in life's experiences. "Coming home to Australia is part of that equation. Australians are huge contenders on the international stages and have respect abroad in all fields. "It's a shame that my adored showgirl industry is not as mainstream as it is say, in Europe. We are putting on a very rare show with Cabaret De Paris. Something you would otherwise have to travel to see. "My wish is to make this the staple of the Aussie too, as much as footy! "We are ready for refinement here. Many Aussies have travelled now and yearn for international flavours in shows. "When I'm home, if I can continue to be an ambassador, as I was all my life, for showgirl shows I can be content in Australia too. "I have a lovely property in the Gold Coast hinterlands and the big dream is to have my cake and eat it too - to do my show, from my home base!'' Why do you think cabaret is such an enduring art form? "Cabaret is living history. It's part of the escapism we all search for. "Even Miley Cirus and Kim Kardashian wish they were us somehow! "In Paris we had frequent requests from pop divas to headline our shows. Kylie Minogue , Katy Perry, Madonna all copy elements of our performances. "But we hold the licence, for we are the real Showgirls. "While people are bogged down in daily life and now reality TV, cabaret is kicking all that in the teeth with untamed extravagance. "We don't pretend to be ordinary people. Our acts perform mind bending illusions, death defying acrobatics and feats of hilarious vaudeville. "While our dancers don't look like anyone you know. We don't even speak your language, we speak French. "We are ordinary people doing extraordinary things.'' Cabaret de Paris, Her Majesty’s Theatre, two performances only Saturday, September 19,  and  Sunday, September 20. Bookings: BASS 131 246 
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