Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Burlesque in a Theatre

(Artwork above is by Sebastian Kadlecik based on a photo by Chris Beyond for Pin-Up Girls, wardrobe by Christine Guilmette.)

Ninety-eight percent of the burlesque shows I've done have been in clubs or restaurants. From what I've gathered in my research on producing, most clubs let you keep most (if not all) of the cover charge and/or give you a percentage of the bar and food. That's what you use to pay your dancers, band, pick-up girl, emcee and specialty acts. If you're lucky, you'll be able to pay for the promotion you bought and maybe even get paid yourself from that. You don't have to shell out much money for the space except maybe a deposit.

In theatres, you have to rent the space. We're in a theatre with just under 40 seats. There's only so much you can charge people and expect them to pay. Let's say we charge $10 a person. That's $400 maximum we can bring in. If the theatre is $200 a night, it limits the amount that can be split between the performers. Without a liquor license, you can't serve alcohol so you lose out on money from that. Of course, many theatres won't allow folks to bring food and drink into the theatre. In our case with the High Jinks Burlesque, we're raising money for the theatre so we don't really have to worry about splitting the door.

Of course, in the theatre you have a captive audience. The cheers of thirty-some people are louder at times than those of a hundred because of the acoustics. You don't have to worry about spilled drinks. It also makes it easier to do a fan dance when the audience is on one side instead of three sides. It ups the theatricality of the whole thing. If I could figure out a way to make more money off burlesque exclusively in a theatre, I'd go for it.

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