Laughter, lights and liquor

Chico Cabaret brings some risqúe holiday cheer to the theater with Le Noël Dépravé

DECEMBER DEBAUCHERY <br>Santa Claus (Don Eggert) surrounds himself with some naughty elves, from left, Kyle Silliman, Rachel Mickilwicz and Shannon Foy.

Santa Claus (Don Eggert) surrounds himself with some naughty elves, from left, Kyle Silliman, Rachel Mickilwicz and Shannon Foy.

Photo By Mark Lore

When it comes to holiday plays, the options are pretty limited—The Nutcracker, A Christmas Carol, Babes in Toyland and the like. While family fare may get you in the holiday spirit, it’s not always the most interesting or exciting way for adults to spend a couple of hours inside a crowded theater.

Chico Cabaret is looking to keep audiences wide awake, eyes fixated on the stage, with its original holiday burlesque show, Le Noël Dépravé.

The production will include drag numbers, old-school vaudevillian comedy, acrobats, topless tap dancing and stripping elves, among other things.

Yes, stripping elves.

The people behind Le Noël Dépravé want to bring something new, exciting and different to Chico theater.

Choreographer Shannon Foy has been working on a number the crew describes as “cute-sexy.” The dancers will also be lighting up the stage, decked in costumes made entirely of holiday decorations complete with Christmas lights.

Jennifer McAfee prefers black on Christmas.

Photo By Mark Lore

In addition to musical numbers, Le Noël Dépravé will also feature a re-working of the classic Abbott and Costello “Who’s on First” skit, though the banter will involve girls at Centerfolds, not New York Yankees players. The Rocky Horror Picture Show‘s Frank N. Furter may just make an appearance during Le Noël’s run.

“This show is explosive,” said Phil Ruttenberg, Le Noël‘s artistic director. “It’s going to get people on their feet, and they’re going to walk out with a big grin.”

While the show is not child-appropriate, the people behind the scenes assure the production is classy, not sleazy, and not to be mistaken for a strip show.

With a 20-member cast made up of different shapes, sizes, races and ages, diversity is not only present in the acts, but in the performers as well.

The message is that anyone can go out, have a good time and feel sexy without looking like burlesque-style performers such as the Pussycat Dolls or Dita Von Teese, said Amey Carlton, a Le Noël co-director, though inspiration was drawn from these popular performers.

The production is also breaking new ground by uniting Chico dancers and community theater actors, who don’t always get the chance to interact.

In keeping with the old-school holiday feel, the audience can enjoy the show while sipping wine, beer, martinis and hot toddies from the Cabaret’s bar.

“People need to be laughing during the holidays, with all that’s going on in the world,” said Le Noël co-director Amado Hernandez. “We need to lighten the load, and this production is about having a good time and enjoying life.”

Carlton has one message: “Bring your money … for the bar!”