5-minute interview with Missy Malone

Missy Malone (c) Lisa Williams, www.cherrybombrock.com

Missy Malone (c) Lisa Williams, www.cherrybombrock.com - Credit: Lisa Williams, www.cherrybombrock.com

Ladies and gentlemen – and colourful others – prepare yourselves for a night of talent and titillation; laughter and libido; feathers and the completely fabulous as Missy Malone and friends return to Cheltenham for their much-loved and always sold-out Burlesque show. If you haven’t been along to one of her shows before, I can heartily recommend it… and if you don’t take my word for it, here’s what the lady herself has to say…

What first got you interested in Burlesque, Missy?

I fell head first into it! Back when I started out in this industry in 2004, the UK Burlesque scene was very small and underground with only four regular shows in the country (two in London, one in Birmingham and one in Glasgow). I was a performer in a Glasgow-based circus troupe (and still at uni studying costume design at ECA), when my then circus tutor suggested I look into historic ‘Burlesque’ as inspiration for my future performances as she felt it suited the style and aesthetic I was already displaying. I got researching on the internet thanks to the uni computer lab, fell in love and found a flourishing scene across the pond in the US.

Although originally from Livingston in Scotland, you’re now a much-loved honorary Cheltonian. What brought you to the town, and when was that?

I came to Cheltenham in 2008 simply because I fell in Love with a Cheltenham lad, my now husband… although Cheltenham has turned out to be the perfect match for me in its own right! The town had not seen a Burlesque appearance since the 1950s – I soon put that right and re-introduced Burlesque and cabaret to Cheltenham.

Who taught you to dance… as well as do trapeze and stilt-walk, among your many talents?

As a young child I regularly attended dance classes (tap, ballet, jazz) and then soon after I joined West Lothian Youth Theatre (which I remained with until I was 17). My mum was really so encouraging and always signing me up to performance skills and art workshops to learn new skills. She was a skilled dancer herself (Highland and ballet) and obviously understood the draw of performance. The circus company that I joined came through a workshop I took part in at Youth Theatre; I learned all my circus skills there.

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Who goes to your shows?

My audience demographic tends to be majority female and the age range varies massively from 18-80! It is popular with couples and groups of friends alike. The show has a variety of Burlesque, cabaret, circus, music and comedy, so there really is something for all tastes!

What would you say to a Burlesque ‘virgin’ to encourage them to go to a performance?

If you would like to sample a true Burlesque and cabaret experience, please come along to the show and join the fun. I am so proud of the show and I am confident it is the highest standard you will find in the UK. I hand-pick every single performer and only include the best there is; I put on a show I would love to sit and watch myself. There is always such a welcoming, inclusive atmosphere, and Burlesque fans are the best audiences there are!

What makes a good Burlesque performer?

The best Burlesque performers I see have honed their craft (costume, music, skills and attention to detail), are confident and, most importantly, love their job. If you love your performance it is very hard for the audience not to fall in love with you, too!

It’s always a joy seeing which ‘friends’ will be joining you on stage. Who and what can we expect at this show?

This year we welcome back internationally renowned and award-winning composer, lyricist and compere extraordinaire Desmond O’Connor. The show will also star the multifaceted Velma Von Bon Bon, bringing with her comedy Burlesque characters and circus skills; the gun-slingin’, knife-throwin’, bullwhip-wielding Cabaret Cowgirl herself Ayesha H; Burlesque starlet Cherry Shakewell, who shakes well by name and nature; and finally a special something for the ladies… The Mighty Moustache, an authentic strongman with a few impressive tricks up his sleeves!

Missy Malone and Friends is coming to Cheltenham’s Playhouse Theatre on Saturday, April 22, with two performances: 7pm and 9.30pm. Tickets are £17 from the box office: 01242 522852 or visit the website.