The can-can is a combination of high spirited dancing – sort of a gallop – and a peek at frilly underwear. It’s sexy, cheeky and provocative. At least that’s what I am told. The dancers step and kick, letting their ruffled bloomers all hang out. There are tales about a trick that dancers used to play on unwary customers in 19th Century Montmartre dance halls. The dancers would bet the gentlemen that they couldn’t take the gentleman’s hats off without using their hands. Once the bet was in hand, the dancer would do a high kick, knocking off the gentleman’s hat and amusing the entire crowd. It also served as a warning to the men not to even think about taking any unwanted liberties with the performers.
Now, you don’t have to check into Georges Cinq Hotel in Paris to experience the can-can. You can check it out at the Westchester Broadway Theatre in Elmsford. The can-can dance and the musical of the same name is playing there through October 14. Impressarios Bob Funking and Bill Stutler, two former Mad Men, have been bringing your favorite Broadway musicals to Westchester since 1974, making theirs the longest running professional equity theater in New York State.
The musical Can-Can ran on Broadway for two years in the fifties and has some awesome music and lyrics by Cole Porter with a book by Abe Burrows. Among the songs are some of my personal favorites: “I Love Paris,” “Allez Vous En,” “Let’s Do It,” “Just One of Those Things” and “Cest Magnifique.”
If you can’t make it to Can-Can, stay tuned. This season, Westchester Broadway Theatre will be producing In The Heights, Kiss Me Kate, Sound of Music and Oliver to name just a few.