Friday, February 26, 2016


Luis Antonio is a big believer in serendipity.  How else could he explain how his trip to Australia, his walking his chihuahua LJ, an accidental meeting on the street, a need to pay tribute to a beloved best friend Sassie who died recently and his love of the dance could result in an amazing theatrical adventure that is “Escapade.” Now in its third iteration since last October, New Haven’s unique stage at Lyric Hall will welcome “Escapade An Unusual Experience” tonight at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m., and Saturday night at 6 p.m. and 10 p.m., with drinks and a pre-show one hour earlier.

Think circus. Think art, music and dance. Think the Dada art movement. Think way out of the box or the circus ring. Luis Antonio, the show's creator and director, clearly loves the dance and wants the audience to feel the need to levitate right out of their chairs.  Described as “an adventure into a world of the spectacular, the bizarre and the curious,” it features a series of surprises from the moment you venture into the entrance of Lyric Hall where proprietor John Cavaliere is likely to greet you. Prepare to see a mini-fashion show, artwork, installations, a pre-show fun house and guaranteed novelties.

John met Luis last summer as Luis was walking his dog.  A conversation ensued and John gave Luis and LJ a tour of his one hundred year old establishment, one that started as a silent movie house and burlesque theater, located in the heart of Westville at 827 Whalley Avenue.  John runs his restoration business there by day and by night opens the facility to a series of musical and theatrical events.  His impresario nature bursts out joyfully as he nurtures the arts.

Come see a bearded lady, Kellie Ann Lynch, perform “Wild in the Wind,” a dance conjuring up a black swan in a swirl of tulle, an aerialist Radia Rose              who hangs dramatically from silken ropes and twirls from every limb, hot numbers like “Bang, Bang” with Kiki Lucia and Luis with two great videos by David Kent, Robert Diaz and Luis Antonio that add to the action, a take off of the Andrews Sisters, in this case Kendra Fiercex, Sylvia Heart and Tiana Maxim Rose in a swirl of rainbow sequins belting out a jazzed up version of “Boogie, Woogie Bugle Boy,” a nod to Luis’ good friend Sassie Saltimbocca  with a recording of her great rendition of “River Deep, Mountain High,” and the list explodes in a dozen directions.

With fabulous costumes, worn by a covey of drag queens looking like Vegas showgirls, smooth choreography by the entire troupe include the sauve gentlemen Kadeem Devaron Wallace, Kenneth Padilla and Luis, baton twirling by Kendra Fiercex worthy of a Miss America pageant contestant and soulful singing by barefoot balladeer Jessy Griz, this circus burlesque is sensual and seductive, beautiful and raunchy, always imaginative.  Luis terms it “organic with a lot of artificial people.” By day these performers are nurses, teachers, bankers, models, photographers, sell Starbucks and sunglasses, hold dance and Pilates classes, perform in a band and raise money for charitable arts events like the International Festival of Arts and Ideas. At night, anything and everything goes.

“Escapade” is still growing like Topsy.  With colorful visual projections by David Kent, Robert Diaz and Luis, unusual storylines, utilizing a concept born here in New Haven, it promises a decidedly different evening of entertainment, presented by Image/256 Productions and Lyric Hall.  For tickets ($25 online and $30 at the door), go to

“Escapade” promises an unforgettable experience and delivers even more.

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