A visit with vaudeville

olympia: Burlesque, a dog among acts joining unique show

Contributing writerSeptember 21, 2012 

Even in the do-it-yourself hub of Olympia, Lord Franzannian’s Royal Olympian Spectacular Vaudeville Show stands out.

The annual show – which showcases musicians, acrobats, jugglers, dancers, comedians and more in the intimate space of The Midnight Sun – offers a chance for anyone and everyone to be a star for the show’s two-weekend run.

This year, that includes a family pet.

“This year for the first time we have a dog act,” said Elizabeth Lord, the actress and storyteller who directs and manages the Sun and produces and hosts the show as the big-bellied, red-cheeked Franzannian. “I’m so excited. Every year I always hoped someone would walk in with a dog or some animal act.

“That is really traditional vaudeville.”

Lord doesn’t want to give away too much about the act, so she revealed only that the dog would be in costume.

Lord is promising several more surprises, too.

Among the other acts this year are burlesque numbers by Magic Box Burlesque and Perlita Picante, juggling by yoga teacher/storyteller/Banda Room owner Aeryk Bjork, and acrobatics by Kimberly Cardamom and Sara Sparrow of the Tallhouse Arts Consortium.

Tallhouse is best known for its aerial work, which will be showcased at the Procession Studio for fall Arts Walk and at the Brotherhood Lounge this winter. But that’s not what’s on the menu for the vaudeville show.

“Obviously, they aren’t doing trapeze because at The Midnight Sun, the ceilings are too low,” Lord said. “If someone is just hanging 2 feet off the ground, that’s not really that scary.”

But it’s a perfect venue for acrobatics at floor level, said Sparrow, also known as Sara Olson. “It’s hard to do floor acts in a lot of the Tallhouse shows, because visibility is difficult.”

While vaudeville is an art form going back to the 19th century, Sparrow’s act is contemporary. “My work is firmly rooted in modern circus arts,” she said. “It has elements of theater and dance.”

Sparrow worked as an acrobat before becoming an aerialist, but said this is her first solo floor act.

“I have been to the show in the past,” she said. “It’s a really fun show, and it’s a great way to try out new material and experiment with doing a floor act.”

In fact, even Lord/Franzannian, who has hosted the show since its beginning in 2007, is trying out a new talent this year.

“Lord Franzannian gets to do a choreographed dance piece this year with two other dancers,” Lord said. “He’ll be a little bit of a ballerina. Which should play well, because Lord Franzannian is no ballet dancer.”

See the show

What: The sixth annual Lord Franzannian’s Royal Olympian Spectacular Vaudeville Show, produced and hosted by storyteller Elizabeth Lord, includes music, comedy, acrobatics, juggling, burlesque and, for the first time, a dog act.

When: 8 p.m. today-Sunday plus Sept. 28 and 29; 10 p.m. Saturday plus Sept. 29; 4 p.m. Sept. 30

Where: The Midnight Sun Performance Space, 113 N. Columbia St., Olympia

Tickets: $15 in advance; $15-$25 at the door (no one will be turned away); $7 for those younger than 15 for the Sept. 30 matinee

More information: www.professionaltalker.com/vaudeville-show.html or www.brownpapertickets.com

Also: The shows are recommended for ages 16 and older, except the Sept. 30 matinee, which is appropriate for all ages.

NEXT UP AT THE MIDNIGHT SUN

The Midnight Sun, which last year was in financial trouble and needed to raise both money and awareness, is once again going strong.

“The fundraisers worked,” said Elizabeth Lord, who manages the space. “Not only did we raise money but we garnered more interest, and we have a larger group of people on the board as well as more talented people to help put on plays.”

Next up after the vaudeville show is a festival of seven one-act plays — all by Northwest playwrights — scheduled to run Oct. 12-26. The production is a collaboration between Prodigal Sun Productions and Theater Artists Olympia.

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