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Cowboys, cops, and cabaret: Can Can's Crimson and Clover

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Photo by Nate Watters
Photo by Nate Watters

Pride Month may be over, but Can Can Culinary Cabaret is still celebrating with a Queer new show and matching menu. The popular Pike Place burlesque theater often adds nods to Queer culture through quips, costumes, and side characters. However, the theater's latest production gives even more.

Gay cowboys
Crimson and Clover is a goofy love story about Crimson (Jasmine Jean Sim), a sharpshooting bandit always armed with her secret weapons (her double D's), and Clover (Tori Gresham), a khaki-clad, no-nonsense police officer. It's a classic tale of cops and robbers with a special twist, as Crimson and Clover are both women.

"Honestly, it was incredible [doing a Queer love story]," Sim said. "You're nervous because you want to make sure there's room for making fun references that our Lesbian and Queer audiences would connect to, while also ensuring we had the depth to it.

"I certainly felt very honored to bring it to life. Both Tori and I are Gay or Queer women, so it's really fun to make sure that we're telling that story honestly and that it connects to people in our audience."

Photo by Nate Watters  

Not only does Crimson and Clover try something different by centering an explicitly Queer couple, but it also gives the performers space to show off their acting chops and dabble in comedy. All six cast members take turns hitting the punchlines throughout the fun-filled evening.

The production also deviates from Can Can's usual structure. Host Jonathan Betchtel, who has become known for his goofy, naive persona on stage, takes a back seat and lets Gresham shine in her starring role.

Gresham's portrayal of Officer Clover demonstrates she's far more than just another pretty face. She cracks fans up with her physical humor and easily slides into the "loveable goofball" role often reserved for men.

Photo by Nate Watters  

Mind-blowing performances
For anyone who has previously attended a Can Can show, the newest one is worth checking out. While everyone who graces the stage is a skilled dancer, Crimson and Clover also proved they can all sing. Even performers like Sim, who usually belts out a tune or two, blew the crowd away with their performances. Sim, in particular, wowed fans with the powerful display of her range in the final number, a cover of "I Will Always Love You."

The dances, of course, are always a highlight of the Can Can experience. While Crimson and Clover does tend to lean heavily into the story, dialogue, and musical numbers, it still has room for incredible dance sequences that utilize handmade props. Perhaps the most stunning is a cactus dance, wherein Shadou Mintrone and Travis Guerin don sparkly, neon-fringe cowboy outfits and move like two psychedelic succulents in the wind.

While most burlesque fans can't wait for the performers to shed their clothes, those in attendance couldn't help but stare even before the outfits came off, thanks in part to Mintrone, who designed the wardrobe for the show. The cowboy theme was a barrel of fun and seemed to hit the mark. Can Can has confirmed: cowboys are the hot new thing for summer 2023.

Summer treats!
Of course, half the fun of Can Can Culinary Cabaret is the cuisine. The venue has updated its menu for summer, with even more delicious options fresh from Pike Place Market. Classic favorites like the croissant beignets and gnocchi mac 'n' cheese are still available, but special new options have been added, such as Pride beignets and chocolate s'mores. The former offer a take on the classic Can Can treat, as these fluffy pastries are topped with a sweet glaze and rainbow sprinkles.

As if the performance and food aren't reason enough to check out the latest Can Can production, the theater has also partnered with the Pride Foundation through the end of July. A portion of all Pride-related menu items will go directly to the foundation, which helps empower and advocate for Seattle's LGBTQ+ community.

The only complaint from guests leaving the venue was that the show wasn't long enough. Fans couldn't get enough shirtless cowboys, desert dances, and Queer representation. Crimson and Clover is a must-see, but viewers, beware: Crimson and Clover may just steal your hearts.