Bailey brings traditional burlesque show to Springfield

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD In 1962, former burlesque queen Ann Corio brought back the era of the showgirl and the baggy-pants comic in her show "This Was Burlesque." Rose Bailey is hoping to do the same in 2008.

Bailey is staging a traditional burlesque show on Aug 2. at 8 p.m. in the Bourbon Street section of the Mardi Gras Gentleman's Club on Taylor Street.

Like Corio's show which ran on Broadway and toured for 20 years which included stops in Springfield Bailey's production will feature dancers in elaborate costumes, a live band, and comedy.

Worcester-based comedian Frank Foley and swing dancer instructor Christopher LaMontagne will also perform.

Bailey said the show will be "very couple friendly" and should appeal to people who have enjoyed shows such as "Cabaret" and "Chicago."

The two-hour show is "packed with Vegas and Broadway-style entertainment," she said.

With a smile she added, "a lot of flash and a little bit of trash."

Bailey, who comes from a show-business family and has been dancing professionally since age 16, explained she has been preparing the show for the last four months. The show includes numbers that are salutes are to burlesque queens of the past such as Gypsy Rose Lee.

Traditional burlesque, which thrived in various forms from the 1920s to the 1950s, was the training ground for a number of well known-comedians from Abbot and Costello to Phil Silvers. Strippers such as Corio, Lee and Lily St. Cyr all had crossover careers in other areas of show business.

In the past decade there has been an increase in interest in the traditional form with burlesque troupes as the Velvet Hammer in Los Angeles and Le Scandal in New York City.

Bailey said she was motivated to stage the production to show younger dancers what classic burlesque was all about.

Following the Aug. 2 performance Bailey will bring her Bourbon Street Burlesque Troupe to the World Burlesque Convention at the Mandalay Bay casino in Las Vegas from Aug. 25-28. The troupe will perform there and Bailey hopes to secure bookings for the show and tour the country.

Tickets are $25 for the show and $50 for VIP seats that include a meal catered by the 350 Grill, Bailey said. On sale now at the Mardi Gras, Bailey said remaining tickets would be available at the door the night of the show.