With Glowing Hearts: A Canadian Burlesque Revue (Stage 22, Garneau Theatre)
by Todd Babiak
Nellie McClung, played by Ellen Chorley, is a hyper-aware woman. Yes, she helped change the lives of millions of women in Canada and around the world. But too many were excluded. The “persons case” was only about certain kinds of persons. Indeed, looking back from 2017, our eloquent hostess has regrets.
And, at times, way too many clothes on.
With Glowing Hearts is an unusual look at Canadian feminist icons, far from the Heritage Minutes of our collective childhood.
It’s a smart, funny, sexy riot. We learn a lot about the Famous Five, Laura Secord, two Klondike Kates and the Edmonton Grads. And by the end of the show we wonder if maybe we’re all dopes by not taking up burlesque in our spare time.
Sarah Jackson, whose burlesque stage name is Violette Coquette, is a strange and hilarious Roberta Bondar — Canada’s first female astronaut. Maddy Knight (Sweet Lady Night) performs a beautiful song as novelist Lucy Maud Montgomery before getting down to saucy business.
Send in the Girls Burlesque has torn up Fringes in the past, and they have educated their audience in the merry ways of burlesque. Happily, Nellie tells us what to do at the beginning, to make the show more fun: scream and clap a lot.
The choreography is marvellous, the outfits are astounding, and all five of the Famous Five (plus the beaver, Kiki Queen) beam with joy on-stage.
If you know and love burlesque, you already have tickets and you have done the right thing in buying them. If you haven’t been initiated into the naughty cleverness of Edmonton’s burlesque scene, let this be your first. You will leave the theatre a bit more knowledgeable and a lot happier.