Play it, Sam! Burlesque troupe reaches the apex — a naughty ‘Casablanca’

Play it, Sam! Burlesque troupe reaches the apex — a naughty ‘Casablanca’

Here’s looking at you, kid.

The Bell House turns into a glamorous gin joint this month during “Wasablanca,” a “Casablanca”-themed night of intrigue, gambling, jazz music, belly dancing and a scantily clad reenactment of the Oscar-winning film.

Troupe founder Doc Wasabassco has been dreaming of doing such a night since creating the troupe seven years ago.

“I’m a huge fan of the movie — it’s one of my top five favorite films,” said Wasabassco. “It was a no brainer to do this. The mental picture formed immediately — I wanted to wear a white jacket like Bogart, and walk around with people in fezzes.”

This scenario, on Aug. 5 at the Gowanus venue, will be comprised of various skits that loosely follow the movie, set largely in a gambling den in Morocco during World War II, with Bogart’s cynical expatriate, Rick Blaine, portrayed in drag by Nasty Canasta.

“It’s almost like when The Muppets do a version of a story — it’s still the story, but you definitely have enough room to let Miss Piggy be Miss Piggy,” said Wasabassco. “Here, we let Nasty Canasta be Nasty Canasta.”

In this case, that means retaining the mysterious quality of the nightclub owner, but making him even more of a drunk than he already is.

“Because this is burlesque — and burlesque is an exaggerated comic parody — there’s a lot more room to find the humor in the character,” said Canasta, who has her fair share of famous male leads under her belt already, including James Bond and Indiana Jones.

Throughout the night, the womanizing Capt. Louis Renault, played by Claude Raines in the film, will also be done in drag, thanks to Gal Friday, while Hazel Honeysuckle will play Blaine’s ex-lover, Ilsa Lund, immortalized by the beauty Ingrid Bergman in the film.

And instead of Nazis posing threats to freedom and decency, that will be left to the “Fetish Fascists” — two dominatrices.

“There’s going to be lots of black leather, long gloves, stern looks and eye patches,” said Wasabassco. “I think people would rather look at a lady dressed like that than an old German.”

To help turn the Bell House into Rick’s Café Americain, there’ll be jazz music from the Gelber and Manning Band (playing, of course “As Time Goes By”), gambling (well, bingo), hosted by Dick Swizzle, handcrafted cocktails, and period dress, including glamorous gowns, snazzy suits and fezzes (partiers are encouraged to come dressed for the occasion, as well).

To help authentically set the mood, Wasabassco is teaming up with jazz age-inspired party promoters Wit’s End and Gemini and Scorpio.

“Sitting down and talking with them about the idea made it all possible,” said Wasabassco.

This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

“Wasablanca” at the Bell House [149 Seventh St. between Second and Third avenues in Gowanus, (718) 643-6510], Aug. 5 at 8 pm. Tickets $20, $15 in advance. Advance purchase recommended. For info, visit www.thebellhouseny.com.

This is the kind of action you’ll get in Wasabassco Burlesque’s “Wasablanca” parody.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini