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Interview: Seven Sins by Company XIV

Members from the stunning Bushwick show reveal all

Interview: Seven Sins by Company XIV

Company XIV's Baroque Burlesque Seven Sins recently reopened at Théâtre XIV in Bushwick after being shut down due to the pandemic. It is a sultry retelling of Adam and Eve featuring aerial acrobatics, ballet, opera, and music.

We sat down with Austin Mccormick (Director/Choreographer), Pretty Lamé (The Devil), and LEXXE (Original Music) to chat about the reopening of Seven Sins, the training that goes into it, and what's next for each of them.

What does training/prep work/rehearsal look like for a show like this?

Austin Mccormick: XIV productions all start with a dreamy reimagining of a classical ballet, myth, or fairytale. I create as though I'm sitting in the audience. I seek to delight and amuse myself in the hopes of charming and transporting our guests. My collaborator, Zane Pihlstrom, and I start by planning the shows from a design perspective. Zane brings tons of creativity and innovation to our sets and costumes. The incredible artists of XIV train and work on their acts around the clock. Everyone involved is incredibly disciplined and takes their craft very seriously.

Pretty Lamé: I prepared for this show really the only way I know how: as a classical musician. Like preparing an opera, I first go through all of the text to understand exactly what it is I'm saying. Then I can move on to the rhythms and the notes. Musically, it was very important to me when preparing the songs to actively keep changing up my singing style. The Devil shapes-shifts into so many different and seductive characters. Vocally, I'm taking everyone on a musical journey from grand opera to bubblegum pop and everything in between.

Seven Sins had to close its run in 2020 due to the pandemic. What's it like to be back up and running again?

PL: Simply scintillating! It's thrilling to give this beautiful show the run it deserves!

AM: It's unbelievably surreal to see this show back live and in the flesh. It was incredibly disappointing to have to close after only a few weeks of performances in 2020. The show grew and evolved in my mind over the closure and I think it's our most glittering spectacle to date. Audiences seem thrilled to be back at Théâtre XIV and the champagne certainly is flowing!

LEXXE: This time, there was a lot more emotion involved. So many times we all would get together on zoom wondering if we'd ever get to bring the show to stage again or be on any stage at all. It was certainly the light at the end of the tunnel for a lot of people.

What was the inspiration behind the show, music, and performances?

AM: Seven Sins is our take on the temptation of Adam and Eve incorporating the Seven Deadly Sins. It's a blend of circus, singing, burlesque, dance, drag, and opera. I had so much fun creating the exotic cocktail menu inspired by sin and seeing audiences imbibing while being transfixed by our incredible artists is an utter joy.

LEXXE: As a queer person who grew up in the catholic church, I definitely have a lot of questions and bones to pick with the idea of good vs evil. With the lyrics, I really wanted to find a human connection to each sin, be it cheeky or dark.

PL: Well to be honest I've been a hellion since birth, so finding the inspiration to be devilish was not hard!

What is your favorite part of the show?

PL: My favorite part of the show is the finale. It is totally absurd, ironic, and glamourous. To me, it's a true "heiligekunst" drag moment! The cast is so diverse and wildly talented. I'm truly grateful to share the stage with each of the artists here.

LEXXE: I am really excited about the way the show has evolved when it comes to Eve and her perception. Eve gets a LOT of flack for eating the apple first, and in this version, she is so much more than that. We learn about lust, jealousy, and all these other feelings through her experience of them, and I think it's one of the most badass female roles. She slays!

AM: It's so hard to pick a favorite. Our opera-singing emcee in drag, Pretty Lamé, is a force of nature with world-class pipes who brings so much naughty fun to the role of The Devil. LEXXE's original music featured in the show has audiences grooving. We have an incredible aerial duet between Nolan McKew and Troy Ligelbach representing Jealousy as a sexy, airborne tango that leaves my jaw on the floor every time. Syrena brings her Bellydance expertise to the role of Lust and has been bringing the house down with her sensual routine.

Is anything new in this reopening that wasn't part of the original? Are there parts that have new meaning?

LEXXE: We added a new song for Greed. Using XIV's namesake, Louis XIV, as inspiration sheds light on the dangers of greed and ignorance while also appreciating the beauty of the time period. It's pretty tongue and cheek, and if you listen really closely you can hear chants from the French Revolution.

AM: The final pas de deux between Adam and Eve carries more weight in this version of the show after what we have all been through the past several years. It's an opportunity for audiences collectively to connect to the pleasure and pain of being alive.

If you were to describe this show to someone who has not yet seen it, what would you say?

AM: I've heard "Rococo on crack" but I think the most accurate description came from the New York Times "'s as if the court of Louis XIV has been transplanted to a nightclub." We are at the nexus of theater and nightlife and the environment is welcoming, sexy, and generous. I have never been anywhere else in the world where the environment is so joyous and the quality of performance is so exceptional.

LEXXE: It's as if your religion teacher gave you a lot of absinthe and was replaced by a Devil in drag, singing opera.

Is anything else coming up you're willing to share?

LEXXE: I am so excited about the future of original music and XIV. As for me, my next single titled "Rita Hayworth" comes out in June.

PL: I'm hard at work writing a new cabaret that I can't wait to bring into the world.

AM: I am working on a top-secret, new endeavor that combines magic, inventive cocktails, and seductive circus performance. An announcement about the opening of a brand new immersive environment and production is coming soon. It's gonna be pure "Magique!"

Seven Sins is now showing at Théâtre XIV.

(Photo courtesy of Alexander Sargent)

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