It’s 1965, boom time for Seattle. Money is pouring in; the World’s Fair was a success; and there’s a new tolerance for an “anything goes” attitude.
Those who are in the sex business relish the opportunities that lie before them, and this saucy musical production directed by Mark Siano offers a rollicking introduction to a Seattle where vice is tolerated, corruption is rampant and show girls show it all. (Note: “Seattle Vice” contains male and female nudity.)
The talented duo of Mark Siano and Opal Peachey, influenced by a Rick Anderson book, “Seattle Vice: Strippers, Prostitution, Dirty Money, and Crooked Cops in the Emerald City,” collaborated on the show’s book, lyrics and music, and also play the leads. They realized that ACT’s intimate, down-under Bullitt Cabaret made an ideal venue for their naughty nightspot. There’s even a bar in the room offering drinks throughout the evening.
The story centers on Gil (Mark Siano), the appealing vocalist double-crossed by Frank Colacurcio, the gangster played with a smarmy self-regard by Michael Cimino. Rose Marie Williams (Opal Peachey) is the golden-throated songstress and compassionate madam. There’s a corrupt police chief, inside jokes and jabs at the Seattle mindset, and people who will do anything for money. But the story serves best as a vehicle on which to hang song and dance routines and provide opportunity to watch beautiful young women and men strut their stuff.
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We first meet the women as they serve drinks before the show. With their arms sheathed in long, long red gloves, they prance about on high heels. Sexy stockings held up by garter belts encase their legs, and scanty black bustiers show every curve. Ah, sleepy Seattle certainly has changed since the ’60s. But much as it has changed, be aware that this is still definitely an adults-only show.
When music director John Kranz gives the signal to his five-piece band, lively music fills the room. Out come those delicious-looking women along with their two male colleagues, all forming a high-kicking chorus line, and the fun begins. Thaddeus Wilson’s choreography is both sprightly and sexy, and these young dancers never miss a beat.
While this is a show where music, dance and burlesque routines (fan and pole dances, striptease, twirling tassels) are the chief attractions, the script does manage to give personality to many of the women. We see them being used and being cheated. In this game, all the power lies with the men.
“Seattle Vice” is probably the most unexpected vehicle for a feminist message you’ll ever experience. But it is definitely there.
Nancy Worssam: firstname.lastname@example.org