She’s loud, foul-mouthed, and is the owner of a theatre whose crazy cast of burlesque dancers she calls family. But that description doesn’t do justice to Shine Mionne, the titular character of a burlesque musical that, while explicit, actually has a whole lot of heart.
The play is set in a rundown burlesque hall called ‘The Aristocrat’ on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, a year or two after the 2008 market crash. In a desperate attempt to keep her place running, Shine (Cass King) takes out a loan from the bank that she is finding increasingly difficult to pay off, and is continually threatened with the inevitable gentrification of her theatre. When a smooth-talking businessman named Richard Suit (Theo Budd) offers to help her restore the place and run the show, Shine is forced to choose between saving the show from financial ruin or continuing to run it the way she always has.
The musical had a shaky start, as it was plagued with technical issues (which continued throughout the night), and a band whose accompaniment sometimes overpowered the performers onstage. As a result, its opening number, “This is How We Do It Downtown” was confusing and overwhelming at best. However, the plot quickly picked up pace and one couldn’t help but be charmed by the characters and the story. There was also a whole lot of nudity (with colourful tassels artfully placed in the right places) to keep us entertained in between.
“Shine is a story that acknowledges the existence of sex,” the show’s composer John Woods told The Peak. “It’s not gratuitous, it’s funny, hilarious, and speaks to sex.” There is no better description of the musical, as most of the characters aren’t shy about expressing their sexuality. The most hilarious number, “Blind,” performed by Frankie Avid and Allison Fligg, directly speaks to the power of horniness as they both proclaim that they want to “fuck [each other] blind.”
A standout character was the gorgeously voluptuous Lulu (Danielle Lemon), the star of Shine’s show, who turns people on with her incredible voice and sexy confidence. Lemon’s solo number, “Large and In Charge,” brought her powerful vocals and seductive prowess together in the best way possible.
As for Shine, Woods described her by saying, “She is a character that you don’t really see in any sorts of media; she’s a woman who misbehaves, but is still a hero. Shine is hard-drinking, loud-mouthed, and still gets to save the day.”
King gave an amazing performance, showcasing crass humour mixed in with intense vulnerability, proving that a character can be sexy and relatably human.
In essence, Shine stands out by being sexy yet down to earth, the perfect blend of fun romp and sentimentality. Go see it if you want a good laugh and opportunities to say a couple of “awwws.”
Shine will be playing at the WISE Hall in Vancouver from July 6–16.