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THEATER REVIEW The Fly Honey Show
by Julia Hale
2019-08-21

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Authors: Erin Killmurray ( concept ), Mary Williamson and Shannon Matesky.

At: The Den Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave. Tickets: www.theflyhoneyshow.com/events; $22.50-$45, $100 VIP. Runs through: Sept. 7

Last week at The Den Theatre in Wicker Park, The Fly Honey Show debuted its 10th season celebrating bodies, sex and queerness with a classic burlesque twist. Even the lobby was part of the celebration, featuring a set-up by Emma Alamo, a local woman who makes leather harnesses "and other hot accessories" ( according to her business card ) for all body types. Upon arrival, the lobby was packed with audience members waiting for the show to start.

The Fly Honey Show is a revue complete with singing, dancing and spoken acts. With witty, sexual jokes sprinkled throughout the performance and a focus on racial and social issues, there's a little something for everyone. The songs performed included originals as well as covers of well-known songs, contemporary and classic alike. Behind the hexagon-shaped center stage was a stage with a live band.

The show was hosted by three women: Molly Brennan, Shannon Matesky ( an understudy who filled in for Sydney Charles ) and Mary Williamson—the "Host Trifecta." The Host Trifecta introduced the show, the acts and performed some numbers as a trio, including Frank Sinatra's "My Way."

The non-burlesque acts included a stand-up routine from queer comedian Shannon Noll, a performance from transgender dancer Laksha Dantran, a poem by McKenzie Chinn and a performance from Chicago's first all-female mariachi band, Mariachi Sirenas. Chinn's poem, "First You Need a Body That Can Turn Into Light," was a one-night-only act that changes for each show.

The cast is divided into The Fly Honeys ( femmes and non-binary people ) and The Hive ( mascs and allies ). The Fly Honeys danced to original songs and covers as well. The Hive only had one act in which they danced, clad in denim, to a mashup of the songs "Drop It Like It's Hot," by Snoop Dogg, and "Hot Boyz," by Missy Elliott. My favorite act was a trio of women who danced to Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar On Me" and other songs using cakes as props.

The Fly Honey Show, while educational, is very much an adult show. The show is also well-balanced; I laughed at the fun, crude sex jokes, but things also got real. Chinn's poem had to do with racial-justice issues and consent was discussed numerous times, with the hosts reminding audience members to obtain it before touching performers ( and anyone else ).

Erin Killmurray created The Fly Honey Show in 2009 by Erin Killmurray in an attempt to advance gender equality. Using an intersectional feminist lens, the 2019 version of The Fly Honey Show highlights body positivity and celebrates all gender identities—specifically uplifting femme, non-binary and transgender identities. It was pleasing to see all body types and a range of skin tones on stage. "We are different kinds of bodies with different kinds of experiences," said the hosts. "But together our hive is mighty."


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