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Belters and bohemians: Opera Locos @Sadlers_wells

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At the start of the Opera Locos performance, the announcement says that they really are singing. You could be forgiven for wondering that, given the amplification turns up the backing track and the voices so loud that you can't always tell what's real. But this is a mostly harmless and slightly eccentric blend of opera classics fused with the occasional pop classic. However, recognising the pop tunes would help if you were over a certain age. The most recent of them dates back twenty years. It's currently playing at the Peacock Theatre .  Five performers play out a variety of archetype opera characters. There's the worn-out tenor (Jesús Álvarez), the macho baritone (Enrique Sánchez-Ramos), the eccentric counter-tenor (Michaël Kone), the dreamy soprano (María Rey-Joly) and the wild mezzo-soprano (Mayca Teba). Since my singing days, I haven't recognised these types of performers. However, once, I recall a conductor saying he wanted no mezzo-sopranos singing with the s

Starmen: Briefs Close Encounters @LeicesterSqXmas

Circus performers often seem out of this world. This Christmas The Briefs Factory, lands at the Leicester Square Spiegeltent. Briefs Factor is an all-male burlesque (or as they call it boylesque) group who use circus, drag and dance to show us a good time. The premise is they’re time-travelling aliens offering a message a hope and cheap thrills. And they don’t disappoint for a moment.

With a pulsating soundtrack from music director Busty Beatz mixing disco, electronic and dance, this show never lets up. And when the entire cast come together this show is both breathtaking and breathless with it’s audacious spectacle and energy. It’s like watching a Vegas show up close.

Holding the show together is host, emcee and artistic Fez Fa’anana. Even setting the ground rules for the night (no phones, no bad manners, no dramaturg) he’s hilarious. Then there are the performers. Mark “Captain Kidd” Winmill delivers both a beautiful aerial display and a slightly disturbing bearded lady drag act.

Thomas Worrell has a spectacular routine spinning around in a giant bird cage. Brett Rosengreen thrills with his athletic dancing. Then there’s Harry Clayton-Wright as a bearded Farrah-Fawcett damsel in distress.

Dale Woodbridge-Brown has a quieter and more surreal moment as a time-hopping rabbit boy-clown.

There’s also a regular feature the Briefs boys run, which is a raffle in which the winner gets a special treatment from one of them. On press night it was Louis Bigg’s turn to give this eager winner a slightly naughty blow dry.

Often naughty, sometimes filthy but always delivered with incredible style and energy. You don’t have to be on a hen night to enjoy what is one of the best shows to see this Christmas. Briefs Close Encounters is at the Leicester Square Spiegeltent through to 3 January. They also are running a more family-oriented variety show called Brat Kids Carnival on various matinee dates up to 30 December. And if you like your entertainment extra filthy there’s a late night show called Club Briefs which runs late nights on weekends up to 30 December. A show that grabs you by the baubles indeed.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Photos by Kate Pardey

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