‘Brrrlesque’ will turn up heat in Rust Belt theater

Rust Belt Theater Company will turn up the heat during a frigid January with a weekend of “Brrrlesque.”

The show is a collaboration between the theater founded by Robert Dennick Joki and Black Lace and Burlesque, a local burlesque troupe started by Bernadette Lim and Amanda Rudnytsky. While the troupe regularly performs at Cedars West End, the Calvin Center performances are a return to its birthplace. Lim and Rudnytsky got the idea for Black Lace and Burlesque after appearing in Rust Belt’s “Godiva: A Burlesque Musical,” which is about a group of women who decide to stage a burlesque show.

“Amanda, my partner in crime, and I got together after the show and thought it would be a really interesting thing to do, something that Youngstown hasn’t had for years,” Lim said. “Over pizza we decided to start a burlesque troupe.”

Lim is used to being on stage, both as an actor and as a member of the band The Zou, but burlesque is a very different type of performing experience.

“You’re vulnerable in a different way really,” Lim said. “It’s all about body empowerment, our troupe is at least. We really highlight getting over insecurities, body positivity. We have girls who are teeny tiny and more curvy and voluptuous, younger girls and older woman and mothers. The best way to describe it is it’s empowering and inspiring.”

Lim promised a show that will be “very sensual,” but also filled with comedy, and the troupe is collaborating with Joki on the staging.

“Rob is constructing the costumes and choosing appropriate music,” Lim said.

In addition to Lim and Rudnytsky, performers will include Rachel Clifford, Celena Coven, Lisa Torrence, Katie Morris and Rick Morrow and drag comedian Minaj will serve as host. Each performance will include a wine and cheese reception, and audience members will have a chance to win tickets to upcoming Rust Belt productions.

“Theaters usually are dark around this time,” Lim said. “We thought we’d do something a little fun and keep people interested in the theater.”

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