SUGAR BABIES, now playing to sellout crowds at Haddon Township’s Ritz Theatre, is a tribute to—or revival of—a bygone theatrical form, the burlesque show. Many younger readers may not be familiar with the term “burlesque.” Its original meaning was a show or work of literature making fun of, or lampooning, more serious works Later, from about the 1860s to the 1940s, it came to mean a variety show featuring song and dance numbers, later adding striptease artists and comedians dispensing off-color humor. It’s difficult to say why this form of entertainment lost popularity, perhaps because of the rise of more realistic Broadway musicals and the advent of television.
The show features a chorus of beautiful girls, or “sugar babies,” as they were once called. You won’t find any strippers, but there are plenty of double-entendre, all-in-fun comedy sketches. The comics, who appear to be enjoying themselves along with the audience, include Ritz Producing Artistic Director Bruce Curless; Ritz veteran Joey Quaile, who also choreographed the show; and Ernie Jewell, the stage director and designer of the fabulous set. There are also some beautiful songs and dances, including a Sally Rand-type fan dance by a trio of terpsichorean ladies and a “Greek Garden” ballet in which “statues” come to life. Danielle Miltola, the featured “prima donna,” warbles some torch songs and joins the other dancers and singers. Outstanding numbers include the first-act finale, a minstrel show called “Mr. Banjo Man” and the show’s patriotic finale, “Old Glory,” by the entire company.
The set, as mentioned above, is a knockout, as are the costumes, lighting and choreography. And, if you find the term “Burlesque” a bit disturbing, be assured that there is nothing offensive—just lots of fun. But get your tickets now if you want to see it. They’re selling out fast.
Book, Music and Lyrics by Jimmy McHugh,
Dorothy Fields, Al Dubin. Ralph G. Allen, Harry Ruby
and Various Other Artists
Stage Direction by Ernie Jewell
Musical Direction by Jason Neri
Choreography by Joey Quaile
Lighting Desugn by Chris Miller
Costume Design by Jim Reed
October 24-November 23, 2013
Ritz Theatre Company
915 White Horse Pike
Haddon Township, NJ 08137