Tuesday, February 17, 2009

This is Scathing

I walked out of the Lido cabaret a little past 1:00 am, disappointed. The show was amusing, to say the least, with plenty of scantily clad dancers in fancy costumes, lasers shining through the machine-made smoke, house-brand champagne and pre-recorded music. The spirit of the cabaret was there, but something was lacking.

I've never seen a cabaret show before, which forbids me from making any direct comparisons. My previous impressions of a typical French cabaret were based on what I'd seen in movies (such as Moulin Rouge) and on TV. Perhaps these modern media sources have distorted the image of the cabaret. Whether or not the Lido was a good example of a modern cabaret, it did not match my preconceived notions of grandeur and pageantry.

First, the performers were surprisingly and unfortunately lackadaisical and unenthusiastic. In my opinion, any great performance requires a great level of energy and enthusiasm; for the most part, the performance on Thursday lacked both of these. And when a show, such as the Lido, heavily relies on the stage presence of the performers, this becomes a serious issue. For instance, the diva’s lip-synching lacked the passion and expressivity of the real deal. In addition, all the chorus girls (and boys/men) went through the motions of the show with a blank stare and a fake smile plastered onto their faces, seeming completely and tragically ambivalent to the quality of the production.

While I'm talking about lip synching, I'd like to point out that there is a significant difference in the value of a moderately attractive diva who prances about on stage without doing any significant dancing and a poor job of lip synching and that of a moderately attractive diva who prances about on stage while dancing and singing. I would've liked to have seen the latter, but unfortunately we only received the former. I also feel like I was cheated out of a real performance, since the entire audio portion of the show was prerecorded.

On the other hand, the quality of the production itself was incredibly polished. Sets were well constructed and quite impressive, as well as numerous. There were several very impressive structures that rose up from below the stage including a fountain, a South American-style pyramid and a small ice rink. Every number, I was stunned by the scale. There were at least two dozen showgirls and another dozen men, who rotated through the numbers, decked out in fantastic (and different) costumes for each number. Some had massive headdresses, fancy wigs or other large extensions, and many lacked breast coverage.

In the tradition of the cabaret show, there were numerous inter-dance performances, such as a juggler (with a Chinese yo-yo), ice skaters, a puppeteer and an aerial fabric acrobat. These interludes both added to and detracted from the overall atmosphere. For the most part, I felt like each individual performance was amusing and well done, but they were poorly integrated into the rest of the show, which for the most part flowed very well.

My greatest regret from our night at Lido was that I attended the Thursday late show. There were dozens of empty tables, and it simply lacked the same atmosphere that it would’ve had with a full audience. Even with plentiful champagne, the show lacked the party-like atmosphere I had expected (and would normally expect at a Friday dinner show, for example). Whether or not this affected the performers when I attended, I do not know, but I believe that I would have enjoyed the Lido better if it had been crowded.

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