It’s been a few years since I checked in on “Land of the Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker,” Lily Verlaine and Jasper McCann’s annual holiday show at the Triple Door — and there have been quite a few improvements since I saw it last.
McCann’s emcee routine is now as smooth and polished as he intends to be (not always true in the past), and the sound quality on his backing track (mostly jazz takes on Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker”) is clearer than I’ve ever heard it without losing any of its horn-section punch. He’s in fine singing voice, too, and his Vegas cornball humor lands on-target, especially when he’s complaining about the creeping spread of Christmas music into the weeks before Thanksgiving. (“It’s at the gas station, it’s at the dry cleaner, it’s at the VD clinic — not that I’ve been there.”)
Some costumes for the striptease routines are so dazzling that it seems a crime to take them off. Verlaine’s “Stargazer Gown” in “Waltz of the Flowers” is the prime example. It uses 15 yards of silk, 200 yards of tulle, 150 yards of wire, steel corset bones, oodles of rhinestones and other materials to create a sort of giant, opulent fuchsia-shaped fantasy that Verlaine inhabits with knockout insouciance.
The dance ante has been upped as well, delivering dandy and intricate moves that go well beyond the steps, kicks and glides of the average production number.
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A revamped “Spanish Dance” for Tory Tiara and Trojan Original and the “Chinese Dance” by Laurel Bordeaux and Paris Original (as gender-bending he/she doppelgängers) are highlights.
So is the ever-popular “Dream of the Coffee Casbah,” performed by Verlaine to the “Arabian Dance,” with the two Originals as her bare-chested, intimate and surprisingly acrobatic servants. (While most of the numbers offer tease, this one offers some real titillation.)
Longtime favorites — Waxie Moon’s craven Rat King act, Babette La Fave’s magical light-juggling silhouette routine in “The Swingin’ Tree” — seem fresher than ever.
Though there are only three male striptease artists sharing the stage with a dozen females, there’s more gender equality in the doling out of nudity than you might expect.
It all builds up to a grand finale that gives a whole new meaning to the word “snow-globes.”
If Yoko Ono were to recast her classic, tush-exposing experimental film, “Bottoms,” as a burlesque routine, this might be what you’d get.
Michael Upchurch: firstname.lastname@example.org