Africa Interlude: A quick theatre review before I continue with the African blog post extravaganza.


While I was visiting Tanzania I took my finger off the pulse for a moment, but luckily I always have Evan to fill me in on the latest in arts and culture. Thanks baby! Evan informed me that while I was away a new show emerged by the producers and masterminds of my favorite, Sleep No More. I immediately purchased tickets, since I knew we had to be in NY to go apartment hunting. I’m glad I did because literally an hour later they were sold out.

 Introducing Queen of the Night, a self proclaimed fusion of theater, music, circus, cuisine, design and nightlife. With a strong focus on circus, most of the entertainment is jaw dropping acrobatics mixed with modern Sleep No More-esk dancing. Think a sexually charged Cirque du Soleil with dinner. Thanks to its location right in the heart of midtown, this interactive acrobatic event attracts a much more mainstream crowd than it’s parent institution Sleep No More. And an older crowd at that. I was surprised to see a number of Upper East Side housewives as well, but then again we are in Times Square.

Sleep No More has always had a relatively young following, possibly due to the physical feat you must endure in order to truly enjoy its immersive theatrical quality. Running up and down 7 flights of stairs and through different terrain in an old abandoned hotel might be where the older crowd draws the line. After conducting a poll at our table it came to my attention that half of the table had never even seen Sleep No More….what?!? I was almost sure that the SNM cult following would be the majority of Queen of The Night’s patrons, I was wrong, it was a completely new crowd, possibly a following of people who enjoy the famous NY restaurants American Cut and Scarpetta, the food connoisseurs behind Queen of The Night’s cuisine.
 Your first reaction when you walk in is, so I thought they spent $30 mill on this place…? All you see is dry wall and plywood, then you walk a bit further past coat check and you finally realize that the unfinished construction-look is part of the decor, phew!
 
 As you begin to ascend down the marble staircase into the caverns of the Parliament Hotel it then takes on a Phantom of the Opera theme in the form of a large chandler that rests at the bottom of the staircase. Oh, except for the naked woman with the mask on behind the wall of glass with the geometric mirrors, but other than that! Totally Phantom.
Phantom Phantasy…
 This is right around the time when you begin to notice that the touchy-feely chaperons are wearing gaucho capri tuxedo pants with wrist cuffs above the knee, and the coats with tails that have buttons going all the way down the back. And don’t forget about the exposed sock stays. The costumes were created by noted mens and womenswear designer/fashion label, Thom Browne, my favorite being the tuxedo shirt turned thong leotard with one sleeveless arm and red pants. Hot!

Once you’re escorted into the main ballroom you come upon the bar, which is more like a chemistry lab with bubbling flasks, tubes, and smoke. I particularly enjoyed the light fixtures that were submerged in gurgling water, and the constant torch blowing of rosemary. On the counter are tons of drinks, pick a drink, any drink, I chose the tall glass, a vodka drink with cherry tomatoes and muddled basil. Peter went with the short glass gin based drink.          

The chemistry lab

 
After you grab an artisanal signature cocktail you’ll want to direct your attention toward the stage where you’ll see all sorts of human defying acrobatics and juggling…and a topless woman laying on a table with a red veil over her body. You’ll be encouraged to walk around and take in all the sights, while being offered delicious trays of deviled eggs and foie gras. Once you’re let onto the main floor it becomes a free for all to find a seat where you’ll dine and stay for the remainder of the show. We shuffled to the left of the stage and sat at a large table with two other couples. Each table is showered in olives, walnuts, grapes, wine and bread. A woman then came to our table and asked us all if we were in love, and I immediately shouted, “love! Oh yes!” She asked how I knew what makes it real love and Peter pulled out his tattoo wedding ring and I pulled out mine. She asked us if we remember the feeling we had when we first feel in love or the first time we met and if we would want to feel that again and I exclaimed again, “oh yes! It was the greatest feeling in the world, one of the greatest days of my life!” This may have been a lot of pressure for the other couples at the table on casual dates… These comments would come full circle later in the show, and I would eventually receive a luscious kiss on the cheek from this woman. The show continues and this is when it starts to get really good, the acrobatics are mind boggling, it bends your perception of reality and what the human body is capable of doing. 

 These talented gymnasts are taking risks, big risks. After a lot of aerobatic-like dance to techno/rave music, naturally, it’s time for dinner in the form of a bird cage full of lobster and a suckling pig. Our table was lucky enough to get the birdcage of lobster, which is the best! 

 

Dinner is served!

 

Crustacean cage

 Once the bibs are on its time to get to work and crack open some delicious lobster. Before you know it the entertainment is in full swing again, a man with a string and spindle, knife throwers, and impressionist dance. But the question still remains, who is the woman in the mermaid gown?

 

 Later this mysterious woman does a beautiful yoga-sensual impressionistic solo, the dance of love. This was the part of the show that actually got to me and that doesn’t happen often, this scene made me emotional because I truly understood it to my core. The idea that love is like a man balancing an umbrella on his head while juggling, love makes the impossible, possible, the mundane and ordinary, extraordinary. It turns every day life into fantasy. It is magic and undefinable. And my eyes filled with tears because I knew it was true and I was so happy and blessed to understand it and experience it. Thank you Queen of the Night for that one moment, for me the entire show was worth it just for that delicate and heart felt scene. The show ended with everyone getting up for a slow dance. I enjoyed how they tried to bring emotions and love out in people, I appreciate that, we need more of that. Then naturally after this love fest they started spoon feeding everyone chocolate cake from the main stage. Mmmmm.

Design:

The water closet
 Psychedelic serpent wallpaper in the stalls

 

Bartenders sport back pleaded kilts

Just like Sleep No More the performers like hanging out at the bar after the show, giving us the opportunity to gush over their superb talent, I even struck up a conversation with one of our servers who was getting a drink after the show. I asked him how he came to work there, and he said he responded to an add on Craigslist for a server in midtown, and a month later he received an email and an interview, they hired him on the spot. Awesome. That’s why you have to love NYC, you never know what the heck crazy stuff you could get yourself into.

 

The bottom line:

All in all if you’re looking to be thoroughly entertained and have a unique dining experience you should check this out. I have to admit that I was underwhelmed and a bit disappointed by the music, it was a musical let down after thinking that Mozart’s Magic Flute was somehow involved. I secretly kept waiting to hear the ‘Queen of the Night’ Aria, that never came, but I did hear some Beyoncé… If you’re going to drop millions on a renovation and design, go all the way! Get some real musicians in there, geez, with all the talent in this city it’s a sin not to use it! At the very least combine pre-recorded electronic music with live musicians. They had a team of talented people design the esthetic, costumes, menu, choreography and theatrics, why allow the music to be an after thought, arrange some techno inspired Mozart!? If that’s what it was, I couldn’t tell. And you absolutely need a musical act after the show is over. That was a total fail. Showcase musical talent, please!

“Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.”

― Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

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