The five 'Chic Bon Bons' burst onto the stage to the sound of Christina Aguilera’s song Express, in a display of stockings and burlesque dance. At once, it’s clear that they’ve all got some moves – and it’s great to see some real women on stage, full of Marilyn Monroe curves, unafraid to flaunt their sexuality (or their fabulous selection of underwear). They’ve made good choices of music to accompany the dances, as well; I especially liked the version of Fever sung in French.
My favourite numbers were the ones where the whole group worked together – including the 9 to 5 Dolly Parton office routine, and the 1960's scene where two women competed to be the perfect beach belle. Considering they had so little space to dance in as an ensemble, the choreography was varied, and they coped well with so many costume changes at high speed too. I also liked the idea of the French maid entering the stage in between numbers to 'tidy up' from the last song.
Although the songs sung live were carried off well, I actually found the lip-synched numbers more entertaining; they allowed for a little more playfulness, particularly when it came to the exaggerated facial expressions. And although it was fundamentally a good idea, the use of a large projector-lit screen – intended to add some mystery to the routines – felt a little clumsy at times. Sadly the figures grew blurry during some of the exits and entrances.
There were a few unfortunate hiccoughs on the night I attended – chairs getting caught in curtains and so fourth – though I have to give a favourable mention to the seamlessly professional handling of a microphone failure mid-song. I'm honest, though, I did feel the show could have been a little shorter. It may have been a different dancer and a different tune, but there are only so many times you can do a strip-tease down to nipple-tassels before it starts to feel a bit deja-vu.
Still, this is a show that demands chutzpah and bravado, and the girls had both of those in bucket-loads. Their gutsy commitment was clear and commendable, and their energy was infectious – meaning that the occasional glitches were easy to forgive. It was clear that this production is a labour of love, which deserves to win an audience here in Brighton.