Guest review from Vancouver's top funnyman and MC, David C. Jones!
There is an elegant tent set up in the middle of Queen Elizabeth Park. There are wonders to behold in the red and gold Spiegeltent from Belguim.
After passing through a circus-like entrance, you are in a surprisingly lush lounge where you can check your coat and enjoy a cocktail. The tent is warm, but I would still recommend a wrap or dinner jacket as the doors do let in a persistent and steady bit of winter air.
When you are ushered in, there are table and chairs surrounding a centre stage on the floor level and booths on the second level. The tent holds 350 and you share the table with other guests. I was sitting near two older sisters and an older married couple, both celebrating a birthday, as well as a nicely-dressed younger couple who were having a date night.
Walking around the tent from table to table are friendly waitresses dressed like ringmasters. Amongst them are restaurant staff: bouncer, manager, chef, sous chef, who interact with audience members.
The show starts and the strikingly beautiful Lady Rizo comes on stage. She is the owner and in the loose narrative we find out that she was left the cabaret in the Magic Cristal tent by her father. Her wayward brother abandoned her and now the responsibility is up to her to make it work.
Then she sings (“from her ovaries”) with the live band and her voice is not just powerful with a bluesy cabaret feel, but she also playfully scats and whimsically tosses notes about like candy.
She introduces the acts as well as the different courses of meals.
First up is Erika Nguyen from New Brunswick, who performs a dangling hoop act high above the stage.
Before the rest of the show can continue, the wayward brother (Kevin Kent) returns. He has been searching the world over for an elusive butterfly and cultivates a flower (an audience member) to help attract it.
The power of the flower transforms the staff and one audience member into creative circus performers.
The manager turns into Ann Bernard form Montreal, a clown and dynamic boleadora performer.
The sous chef transforms into a dazzling and handsome clay juggler named Jimmy Gonzalez from Spain, who astonishes by ripping pieces of clay into smaller and smaller pieces as he tosses them in the air. It’s an act I have never seen before.
The audience member transforms into the very witty Shawn Farquhar who confounds with feats of magic that defy logic.
It goes on; a clown musical act by Colin Heath, a powerful and dexterous aerial duo from LA know as Oliver and Cassie and other antics by Lady Rizo and Kevin Kent. In between, food is delivered at various intervals in an orchestrated and playful way.
As the evening continues, the audience is asked to get up and dance and form a conga line.
The show’s final act is a pizza delivery man who becomes Dima Shine from Russia, a brilliant hand balancing act that seems to challenge gravity.
The celebratory crowd, many drinking more than a couple of cocktails, add to the jubilant chaos that the show is working towards.
The sight of the scantily clad women and shirtless men sexually charges the atmosphere, and the precision and skill of the performers (many from Cirque Du Soleil) is so precise and often jaw-dropping.
The tickets are not cheap. The floor seats are over $200 but if money is not a concern you will have a great time.
As I mentioned, the narrative holding the show together is simple but if you go with fun friends you can make it a festive party. I also recommend having a couple of drinks before you go to loosen up, bring hot sauce to help spice up the otherwise fine food, oh, and don’t be bald. A lot of the jokes made fun of bald people.
With those things in mind, Bacio Rosso is a sexy, silly, spectacular show.