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Seven Sins, Company XIV's Deliciously Decadent Burlesque, Ravishes the Senses

The Brooklyn troupe pulls out the stops in its latest sexy extravaganza.

Pretty Lamé and members of the Company XIV cast in the "Gluttony" scene from Seven Sins, directed by Austin McCormick.
(© Mark Shelby Perry)

"I can resist everything except temptation," wrote Oscar Wilde. That phrase could well have been the tagline for Company XIV's ravishing new spectacle, Seven Sins, the kind of bawdy, though never tawdry, burlesque that has made the Brooklyn-based troupe a favorite of the city's more adventurous theatergoers. As someone who has attended their performances for years, I must confess that this is Company XIV's most lavish, thrilling show to date.

While the company's founder and artistic director, Austin McCormick, often uses fairy tales and other fantastical works as inspiration (Snow White, Alice in Wonderland, and The Nutcracker have been given the XIV treatment), Seven Sins revolves around Adam and Eve's original sin and the seven big no-nos that you might have learned about in Sunday school. If you can't remember them all, don't bother breaking out your catechism. The show is a much more stimulating refresher.

Marcy Richardson spreads her wings in "Vanity."
(© Mark Shelby Perry)

The Company XIV venue itself makes you feel like you're in for a religious experience via a 1920s Parisian cabaret. Frankincense wafts through the dimly lit air as you're greeted by fabulous people decked in furs, feathers, or little more than a handful of sparking sequins (Zane Pihlstrom's shimmering, body-revealing costumes are a big part of the spectacle). You'll soon see those same lithe, well-limbed denizens onstage. But before the show, sidle up to the bar for a cocktail, and try the absinthe-based Forbidden Fruit (absinthe is de rigueur in this establishment). You may want to splurge on the luxurious Champagne couch for two (all seats are available with an absinthe upgrade).

The first part of Seven Sins introduces us, appropriately enough, to the Devil (a golden-voiced Amy Jo Jackson), who acts as a kind of MC and constant presence throughout this two-hour celebration of indulgence. We meet Adam and Eve (Scott Schneider and Danielle Gordon at the performance I attended), whose opening pas de deux is silhouetted by Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew's breathtakingly dramatic lighting. Then of course comes the appearance of the Serpent, an enormous stuffed snake carried in by the ensemble. It's a somewhat awkward scene in a slower-moving act that's redeemed by Schneider and Gordon's comical discovery of their nakedness followed by their expulsion from Paradise as we hear the sultry, housey song "Syria," performed by Unders, throbbing in the background.

The multitalented Sam Urdang juggles in a scene from Company XIV's Seven Sins.
(© Mark Shelby Perry)

The real fun begins in the next two acts as the Seven Sins are revealed in a thrilling procession of routines. Soprano Marcy Richardson, one of the company's perennial draws, belts an aria from Donizetti's The Elixir of Love in "Vanity." The divine Lilin works her seductive magic in a classic striptease and lap dance to the tune of Pistol Annies' "I Feel a Sin Comin' On." And the ensemble does a rousing and wild Jealousy tango accompanied by the "Habanera" from Bizet's Carmen.

Trapeze acts (the multitalented Lexxe), juggling (a frighteningly sexy Sam Urdang), and a hilarious Gluttony banquet (Pretty Lamé belting Katy Perry's "Bon Appétit") are just a few of the many performances that follow (Richardson makes another showstopping appearance in Greed singing Cardi B's "Money" as she suspends herself from a dancer's pole). I won't reveal more here, because half the fun of sin is anticipation. Suffice it to say that McCormick and his troupe will keep you wanting more.

Lilin feels a sin comin' on in "Lust."
(© Mark Shelby Perry)

As if all this were not enough, Company XIV has outdone itself with its new, extravagant Serpent VIP seating option. By choosing these table seats, 12 lucky guests have all their gluttonous desires satisfied with a special menu that begins with chilled lobster and a champagne cocktail, and continues throughout the show with tantalizing treats, three more drinks, and special surprises. During the show and the two intermissions, VIPs get lots of special attention from the company. They also get to see Demi Remick take out her Wrath right in front of them on their tables as she stomps a thrilling tap to "Kiss With a Fist" by Florence and the Machine. For a truly memorable date night, this should be your choice. Oscar Wilde would approve.

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