Silence fell on the crowd as the light dimmed to a bluish haze, setting the burlesque scene. The announcer’s voice broke out overhead and with the impressive speed of an auctioneer, he introduced the foxy bombshell of a woman about to take the stage as Holly Gauthier-Frankel. She is the lead and only actress in Miss Sugarpuss Must Die, winner of the 2010 Montreal Fringe Festival’s Centaur Theatre Best of Fringe Award. Gauthier-Frankel plays the roles of both Holly and Miss Sugarpuss, her burlesque alter ego, in this highly amusing and impressive reenactment of attempted murder.
Miss Sugarpuss’s stage presence is complemented by feathers, glitter, sequins and tassels, which make for a spellbinding recipe that has the audience clinging onto her every word, and reels them into her world of jazz, vaudeville, sex and satire. Someone is trying to kill Miss Sugarpuss, but who could it be?
She takes the audience on a journey back to the days of her childhood as a stage brat. She relates the story of an abused, neglected and molested child in a household where “my mother cared too little and my father too much.” Holly still hides behind the workings of her bohemian lifestyle (read: alcohol) and the glitz and glam of the song and dance numbers.
The performer connected with the audience and masterfully poked at sore, possibly squirm-inducing memories in a humorous and exaggerated manner, provoking laughter and applause from the audience. Although a few theatre-goers were caught off guard despite the warning for mature content and partial nudity, Gauthier-Frankel’s fearless nature was greeted with the sounds of approval, applause and a few hoots and toots.
Miss Sugarpuss Must Die will play at Centaur Theatre on Jan. 14 and 16.