Empire is the latest weird and wonderful creation brought to you by director Wayne Harrison and the producers of Absinthe, and it has settled in Times Square for a summer-only engagement. Headlined by some of the sexiest and most daring performers you’ll ever see, the 90-minute show produces laughter and applause–and cringes.
The antique Spiegeltent, located on West 45th Street, contains mirrored walls, velvet booths and a stage so intimate you could reach out and touch the performers. Acts range from an extensive balancing performance by Rigolo, to an extremely talented (and scantily dressed) trio of acrobatic girls (Anastasiia Gavrylenko, Anastasiia Permiakova and Olena Lomaga). Though at times a little uncomfortable on the back–the show’s earnings clearly not being spent on seating more luxurious than wooden deck chairs–it can’t be argued that the evening’s ringmasters, husband and wife duo Oscar and Anne Goldmann, don’t know how to put on a show.
A word of warning to parents thinking this is the kind of circus performance your kids would enjoy: reconsider! The show is rated “mature audiences” for a reason; during the “Quick-Change” act, we saw a lot more of Mr. Goldmann than we would have liked. Think Cirque du Soleil with a twist of Rocky Horror, blended nicely with last year’s Halloween costumes. At one point, Ms. Goldmann made an unsuspecting audience member part of the show (note to self: never, ever sit in the front row at one of these things) and proceeded to humiliate him graciously as we sat back in our deck chairs and laughed.
Still, despite the brief nudity and some off-color jokes, Empire doesn’t push as many boundaries as it may like to think it does. Whilst it may not be the most ideal show to sit through with your grandmother, it is definitely a must see for those tired of the typically safe Broadway show.