Jugglers, dancers, beautiful girls, aerial acrobatics, opera singing accordion players, entertainers, musicians all under one roof for three performances? Say it ain’t so! Of course it is! It’s time for Swing Time PDX & the Wonderlust Circus to dazzle you with some fantastic entertainment.
I had the honor of attending this show last night to what looked to be a sold out crowd. It was packed indeed (as the show started more than 20 minutes later than originally anticipated) in order to sit everyone at the Alberta Rose Theatre but it was worth the wait as many of the audience members did dress up for the occasion and made for some good pre-show entertainment.
The evening started out with a quartet of two people, the John Bennett Quartet Featuring Jim Buchman which had me a bit confused until a wee bit later when the other two members joined in to play some ragtime music which helped to set the tone of the show. Once the first act started things seemed to have started moving rather smoothly, a few technical issues here and there with the spotlight and the inconsistency of the sound, quickly seemed to have dissolved and we all became immersed into the life of the hero of the show, Bruno.
I must tell you now before going any further with this review, that Bruno (aka Swing Time founder Russell Bruner) was absolutely amazing & instantly became a house favorite. Recently featured in the Portland Monthly Magazine, and seeing his amazing performance as a burlesque dancer & partnering up with some of the evenings most beautiful & talented lady dancers, it’s no wonder people fall in love with him.
Featuring the musical styling of Swing Papillon, we follow Bruno in the first act going from having it all, selling whiskey to the masses in America and having a beautiful girl then tragically getting slapped with that thing called prohibition & his girl leaving him, however, he somehow finds his way to France to adopt the Bohemian Revolution. The first act to me, seemed a bit choppy, almost as if it was a little rushed in being put together or perhaps not enough rehearsal time at the venue (with how busy the Alberta Rose Theatre is though I can’t blame them). I didn’t quite understand where some of the acts fit in or why they were necessary to the story but honestly, and unfortunately, I did miss a bit of it due to two ginormously tall people that sat in front of me blocking my view entirely of the right hand side of the stage. There were times that it seemed to matter that I couldn’t see as I’m guessing I missed some of the action that was relevant to the story line, but I’ll let that slide.
We were introduced to the characters, Absinthe, who ends up pretty much nude, the Green Faeries who were amazing in their acrobatic feats high above the stage, the juggler, the hypnotic belly dancer and of course swing performances and beautiful ladies.
After the extended intermission we found ourselves at the Moulin Rouge waiting for some more awesome entertainment and Swing Time pdx & The Wonderlust Circus didn’t disappoint. The second act felt much more polished and rehearsed and flowed very nicely from one segment of performers to the next. It seemed that all of the technical issues had been worked out and things were finally on track. We enjoyed and were amazed by an opera singing accordion player and his amazing voice, more aerial acrobatics, a juggler that swallowed a sword, singing ladies (Three Part Harmony Triplets), and a strip tease by Bruno which was hilarious & out of all my years as a costume designer/dresser, it was by far the coolest onstage quick change I’ve ever seen.
*warning (or not) Some nudity involved within the evening shows only*
The evening of course wouldn’t be complete without the can-can and bringing everyone back up onstage for a thunderous applause that they very much deserved. These performers were amazing. If you have a chance to get over the the Alberta Rose sometime on Sunday (11/20) please do! There will be a family friendly matinee performance starting at 3:00 and a final evening performance that will start at 8PM.
A few choppy places and some technical issues aside, please make sure you go see this if you can. If not, visit the Swing Time site as they do a ton of stuff around the Portland area including lessons! I will definitely be keeping my eye on what they are going to be doing in the future – this is one of those things that makes me love Portland just a little bit more.