phone mail2 facebook twitter play whatsapp
Between The Sheets: An Interview With Miss Polly Rae
Image Credit: Miss Polly Rae

Between The Sheets: An Interview With Miss Polly Rae

14 June 2016 Tom Faber

One of the country’s most famous burlesque performers and winner of 2015’s Best Burlesque Act at the London Cabaret Awards, Miss Polly Rae is a one-of-a-kind act. The jewel in the crown of her London performances is ‘Between The Sheets’, an intimate boudoir cabaret experience coming to its third season this year at London Wonderground. We catch up with her to find out more about the new show, the history of burlesque and modern innovations.

London Calling: Tell me about ‘Between The Sheets’.

Polly Rae: It’s a contemporary cabaret variety show based on all things ‘in the bedroom’. It’s about everything saucy, everything sexy, super fun with loads of comedy.
 

LC: And it’s been running for a few years?

PR: It’s been evolving over the last five years. We’ve been in London Wonderground for three seasons now. Every year we’ve had more shows and built up the concept. I’m working with a team I’ve worked with for a long time. One is a burlesque artist called Kitty Bang Bang, a famous burlesque star. It’s directed by a girl called Laura Corcoran, who performs in a cabaret duo called Frisky & Mannish. We’re a family of creatives with a passion for making new things. As the years have gone by the show’s got bigger and better. This season we’re really going all-out.
 

LC: What new things can people expect to see?

PR: The main thing about the show is that it’s an ensemble performance. A lot of typical cabaret shows are variety shows with lots of independent acts. Although we have a lot of solo acts, we’ve spent most time on the ensemble numbers. We have a few new additions to the cast. One’s an incredible aerialist who does a fantastic straps act. We also have a new male duet, Tom Cunningham and Miles Brown, who do a spoof of Magic Mike. We call it ‘boylesque’, this fun, sexy tribute to Magic Mike which is going down really well with audiences. Each time we do more of the ensemble stuff, we spend more time on the costuming, the visuals, the props and the lighting. It’s bigger and better each time.
 

LC: What’s the difference exactly between burlesque and cabaret?

PR: You could consider burlesque a form of cabaret. We encapsulate burlesque, circus, singing, dancing and comedy. Burlesque is a facet of cabaret. A cabaret show is about engaging the audience and breaking the fourth wall. It makes it very intimate; we get up close and personal with people. For this kind of show it’s really fun to involve people in the sensual, saucy side of things. People might find it a bit risqué and OTT – and it certainly is – but we bring the comedy in to make everyone feel relaxed. I, as Miss Polly Rae, host the show. I’m inviting everyone into my boudoir and to see the saucy things that happen there.
 

LC: In burlesque the feeling of intimacy must be really crucial. Can it be a challenge to create that in a big theatre?

PR: Where we are now is a Spiegeltent which is perfect. The way the tent is formatted, you can see peoples’ faces. In a big theatre, where sometimes there are shows, you can’t really get the heart and soul of cabaret. With rows of seating you can’t get out into the audience. If you connect with one person you’re kind of connecting everyone together. I love the London Wonderground, it allows you to have a huge audience but you still have that dark cabaret feel. It’s the best of both worlds.  
 

 

LC: Since part of cabaret is about vintage style and music, are there people who do more modern shows?

PR: Burlesque was pioneered in 1940s and 50s America. We had a resurgence about ten or fifteen years ago, in part due to Dita Von Teese. Now you have standard burlesque, which we call classical, with vintage style, music and fashion. I used to be very focused on the vintage but now I use the concepts and traditions of burlesque but bringing it into the 21st century. We use modern music for our soundtrack. It’s still burlesque, but of our time. We call it neo-burlesque.

Burlesque has become very experimental over the years. Now performers are not only trying contemporary music and styling but they’re also using different disciplines. Many like to use skills, like there’s a fire performance in our show, or someone with circus skills. It’s about combining different skills with the art of burlesque. It’s about making yourself unique.

The old movie ‘Gypsy’ with Natalie Wood is the story of one of the most famous burlesque stars that ever lived. It’s a brilliant musical and one of the songs is called ‘You Gotta Have A Gimmick’ – you’ve got to have something about you as a burlesque entertainer that makes you different. It’s just as relevant today as it was back then. I also want to make the burlesque in the show contemporary so it appeals to a wider audience. You are going to get people who like vintage burlesque in my show, but also people interested in pop and fashion. I like to tick as many boxes as possible to get a well-rounded experience.
 

LC: Are there any burlesque artists using new technology in their acts?

PR: There definitely are. We’re in a technological era, it’s about light shows. There are a lot of artists using video projections. At the Crazy Horse in Paris Dita Von Teese just launched a new show where she has some video projections. We haven’t got the budget for that yet, but it’s about making something modern and relevant. There’s a troupe using LED costumes. It’s about seeing what we can get our hands on to get some art out of it. Taking something that wasn’t originally part of a burlesque performance and making it cabaret.
 

LC: What are the best burlesque acts that we could see in London apart from Between The Sheets?

PR: Come and see the Soho Burlesque Club at the Hippodrome Casino – that’s my show as well!

LC: That’s cheating!

PR: It’s very rare that you go and see a show these days that’s purely burlesque. But there are many cabaret shows that incorporate burlesque. One I really recommend is called Seven Sins at Café de Paris on Friday nights. It’s a cabaret show with a burlesque element. All the artforms are starting to blend together to make one spectacular variety cabaret show.

 

Between The Sheets with Miss Polly Rae is at London Wonderground is on some Thursdays between June and September. For more information on dates and to book tickets, see online.

Tell us what you think

You may also like

The Last Ever Secret Garden Party

The Last Ever Secret Garden Party

Spring 2017 brought with it one of the UK’s most important – and upsetting – announcements for the UK festival scene. The great institution that is the…

This Week June 5-11

This Week June 5-11

There’s plenty to put a smile on your face this week in London. Literally, in the case of Dr. Mark Williamson. He runs Action for Happiness,…

BRICKLIVE 2017

BRICKLIVE 2017

Get ready for the return of the fantastic BRICKLIVE this summer - on tour for 2017!

The Best Family Events in London this June

The Best Family Events in London this June

There’s a buzz in the air, and London is starting to come alive after a period of hibernation, so it’s a great month to take the…

Trip the Light: Intercontinental Drifts 2017 #1

Trip the Light: Intercontinental Drifts 2017 #1

A evening of dance from two international choreographers at TripSpace Projects

An interview with actor Killian Donnelly

An interview with actor Killian Donnelly

Killian Donnelly is an Irish actor who has, over the last decade or so, performed in some of the most iconic musicals in the West…

Reach Fitness’ Hacksaw Ridge Challenge

Reach Fitness’ Hacksaw Ridge Challenge

Our very own Editor Tom Butler talks about Oscar-winning movie Hacksaw Ridge - based on an incredible true story - and the fitness challenge he…

The Last Word Festival 2017 at Camden’s Roundhouse

The Last Word Festival 2017 at Camden’s Roundhouse

Spoken word, theatre and gigs collide as Last Word Festival returns to the Roundhouse

The Braille Legacy

The Braille Legacy

A thrilling new musical based on the inspirational true story of a young blind boy and his quest for freedom and independence.

Into the Unknown: A Journey through Science Fiction

Into the Unknown: A Journey through Science Fiction

The Barbican is staging a one of a kind exhibition exploring the genre of Science Fiction alongside several installations throughout the building. Featuring literature and…

Most popular

Win a 3 Course Dinner, Cocktail & River Cruise For 2 People

London Day Out - Win a 3 Course Dinner, Cocktail & River Cruise For 2 People

See a different side of London with an exciting and unlimited cruise down the Thames, followed by a delightful meal.
Win four tickets to a Dustin Hoffman screening plus cocktails!

BFI - Win four tickets to a Dustin Hoffman screening plus cocktails!

Your chance to win four tickets to a Dustin Hoffman film screening, with two cocktails, throughout June/July.
Win Dinner for 2 and Entry to Gilded Interiors

Wallace Collection - Win Dinner for 2 and Entry to Gilded Interiors

We're giving away dinner for two in the beautiful Wallace Collection Restaurant, with entry to their Gilded Interiors exhibition
Win Cream Cakes and Cocktails for Two!

Mr Fogg’s Gin Parlour - Win Cream Cakes and Cocktails for Two!

Indulge yourself at this sumptuous London spot perfect for gin lovers.
Win two weekend passes to a celebration of Japanese culture

HYPER JAPAN - Win two weekend passes to a celebration of Japanese culture

Tobacco Dock hosts a weekend of food, music, performance and more
Win a copy of the artist’s new book Arctic Light!

David Bellamy - Win a copy of the artist’s new book Arctic Light!

David Bellamy's new book documents his travels round the Arctic though watercolour
Win two tickets to see courtroom drama Terror

Lyric Hammersmith - Win two tickets to see courtroom drama Terror

A new courtroom drama puts the audience in the jury.
BRICKLIVE 2017

BRICKLIVE 2017

Get ready for the return of the fantastic BRICKLIVE this summer - on tour for 2017!
Win Tickets a Fringe Comedy Show

The Pleasance - Win Tickets a Fringe Comedy Show

Catch Nina Conti, Tim Key, Jayde Adams, Geins Family Giftshop, Adam Riches & more great comedy at The Pleasance this summer.

Your inbox deserves a little culture!!