I have been following Company XIV and their artistic director Austin McCormick for years and years. Their blend of talent, combined with cirque, baroque and burlesque is thrilling and provocative. Thier sexy gender-bending re-imagining of beloved ballets such as Nutcracker Rouge and Cinderella, has perfected their newest take on Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland with Queen of Hearts.
As you enter the XIV venue, performers greet and seat guests, offering bartending and bottle service in their Bushwick haunt complete with chandeliers and leather couches. This glamorous lair is a cross between a speakeasy and a Parisian bordello.
Company XIV breaks all the rules extending beyond the fourth wall and all five senses. These “superstar” performers, each astound with multiple unique talents. McCormick the company founder, director and choreographer, builds his shows around his cast and he manages to find the very best.
First there is LEXXE as Alice. LEXXE a classically trained ballerina hits it out of the park with her 80s inspired sultry pop vocals.
Michael Cunio has toured the world as 1/4 of PBS “sensation” Under The Streetlamp. He has been described as a cross between Freddy Mercury and Janis Joplin. His rock tenor vocals, are out of this world and I would follow this White Rabbit anywhere.
“Eat Me,” Ashley Dragon twirls on her Cyr wheel demanding for you to notice.
Lilin Lace makes her entrance as the Caterpillar/Butterfly in latex as she contorts and is reborn as the butterfly smoking her hash with her feet.
Performing a flawless mirror version of a classic burlesque (half male/half female) act as Tweedles Dee and Dum identical twins Nicholas and Ross Katen will have your wondering just who is who.
Laszlo Major’s “Drink Me” acrobatic pole dance extended into a floating crown that made the dormouse irresistible.
Ryan Redmond’s makes the Cheshire Cat sexually active.
The Mad Hatter is an operatic Marcy Richardson, who also belts the Tears for Fears’ classic “Mad World,” upside-down while spinning over our heads.
“Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” sings the bluesy Queen of Hearts played by a commanding Storm Marrero.
Resident designer Zane Pihlström costumes, sets and clothes made with reclaimed materials are provocative. His imagination is hedonistic with a wink and a nod to anything and everything sexual.
The only complaint I have with the show is Jeanette Yew’s lighting. So much is kept in the dark, such as in the beginning when Alice starts to sing. Why not illuminate her face?
Also part of this talented cast is Sam Urdang, Allison Ullrich, Jourdan Epstein, Jacoby Pruitt, Ian Spring and Nolan McKew who all have moments to shine.
Company XIV’s mission is is to reimagine classical ballet and fairytales for contemporary audiences in fresh and exciting ways. And that they do. This and all Company XIV shows are worth the subway trek. They are a rabbit hole worth going down.
Do not miss this show that gives so much and really should be on Broadway.
Queen of Hearts at Théâtre XIV, 383 Troutman Street, Bushwick, Brooklyn
Through November 2nd.