A silver tinsel backdrop with the words “Star Follies” lit up to reveal an assortment of characters spaced among the stage, each representing an act that one would see at a circus freak show, the theme for the seventh annual Star Follies Burlesque event Friday night.

Emcee Amanda Hummer, of Muncie, came out singing about her companions onstage behind her at the Muncie Civic Theatre. “Come see those mistakes…” Hummer sang, greeted by a burst of applause from the audience.

Audience members before the show could see the Tarot card reader and belly dancer Jessica Pinatiello, a junior fine arts major, with her snake dancing at the top of the stairs in the lobby.

Terms:

Vaudeville- A typical performance is made up of a series of separate, unrelated acts grouped together. Types of acts have included musicians, singers, dancers, comedians, trained animals, magicians, male and female impersonators, acrobats, illustrated songs, jugglers, etc.

(Source: Wikipedia.org)

Burlesque- An artistic composition, especially literary or dramatic, that, for the sake of laughter, vulgarizes lofty material or treats ordinary material with mock dignity.

(Source: Dictionary.com)

Other acts from the show not mentioned above:

Miss Taylor- Gymnast/contortionist performed to traditional circus-themed music

Cindy- “The Naughty Maid” strip-teased to French circus music ending the dance by throwing her stockings out to audience members

Nancy and her assistant- Sang “Touch-A, Touch-A, Touch Me” from The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Pink Panther- A dance done by three girls in trench coats and fedoras, later ending in black thongs and bejeweled breast coverings

Dee Dee the Crooner- Sang “Sooner or Later You’re Gonna Be Mine,” killing her male victim at the end of her song

Spencer and Shelby- Lovebird nerds who’s final costume consisted of matching teal and polka dot underwear

Cocoa Dallas- Introduced as “poor, but fabulous,” spent their time onstage in a fur coat and blue and white lingerie

Shelby and Kelly the Siamese Twins- Together sang “When I’m By Your Side,” in top hats and bedazzled silver bras

Kayla the Crooner- Sang “Lost and Found”

“Fever”- A dance done by four girls in black blazers, later shedding them and wearing nothing but black spandex and bejeweled breast coverings

Spencer- Accompanied by two girls, the trio danced to “Tough Love,” the theme being Spencer a police officer and trying to get dressed while still in a towel held by the two girls.

Katie- Clad in Bride of Frankenstein make up, Katie sang a piece entitled “Deep Love”

Jessica- Wearing bloodied clothes sang about how all the men in her life were “killed by candarian demons”

They may have also come in contact with the scantily-clad “Zombie Twins.”

Real-life twins Shayna Shelton and Sam Shelton, senior fashion design majors, interacted with the spectators in the lobby chatting and taking pictures before the start of Star Follies seventh annual burlesque event.

Each show normally draws anywhere from 250-350 audience members depending on the show, being made up of not just local citizens, but Ball State students as well.

THE HISTORY BEHIND THE SHOW

Star Follies was a concept thought of by Robert Dirden, Ball State graduate of 2007 and current faculty instructor of the BSU Theatre and Dance Department, and Marcie Greene, also a BSU graduate and faculty member. Dirden had been to a burlesque review in Las Vegas when the idea came to him.

“Me and Marcie were talking one day four to five years ago and had the idea to do a cabaret that incorporated burlesque dance,” Dirden said. “This is the fourth year and the seventh show.”

Dirden and Greene took the idea to Muncie Civic executive director Todd Sandman, explaining that it was a way to do a fundraiser and a way to get the BSU dance department involved at the Muncie Civic. The event would help raise money for the theatre as well as for educational programs and help support the theatre’s budget.

Now, community members, students and faculty are all a part of the Star Follies production. There are no auditions, the performers being handpicked by Dirden each year. Dirden has been a designer for 25 years and has been directing for 15. Each show takes about six to eight weeks of planning and about one week of rehearsing with the performers.

“I design, produce and direct the entire event,” Dirden said. “But I let a lot of my advanced makeup students design pieces for the show.”

Dirden usually assembles a team of six to eight students and will do makeup, hair and body paint or art on ten to twelve people for the show.

“We usually take three to five hours to get everyone ready and the students get experience and have fun,” Dirden said.

MUNCIE CIVIC THEATER

The building itself was constructed in 1880 by James Boyce, the man who originally brought the Ball brothers to Muncie.

The Muncie Civic Theatre was started in March of 1931 by William H. Ball and fellow community members. The theatre was a popular attraction on the vaudeville circuit, acting as a burlesque theatre back in the day.

“Burlesque is where strip tease originated from,” Sandman said. “Feather dances, popping of balloons to represent bubbles and the fan dance are all made famous from burlesque.”

THE REST OF THE SHOW

Hummer continued to captivate her audience, cracking jokes in between acts. After an arranged duet of Frozen’s “Let It Go,” Hummer said, “I love me some fierce, beltin’ b---h’s,” gaining more than just chuckles from those out in the house.

Freshman Alex Oechsel gave the audience a sneak peek from "Carrie," the latest musical being put on by Muncie Civic Theatre. Oechsel, portrying the main role of Carrie White for the musical, performed the opening song “Carrie White.”

Oeschel came out again some acts later, still playing the role os Carrie White, with her sister Erin, who took up the role of “Rabbit Tamer” for the circus theme. Together the duo sang about how much they disliked working for the circus, since Carrie, using her telekinesis powers, would end up killing the entire audience each night.

The song displayed their longing to act on the television station HBO, their chorus beginning with, “How do I book 'Game of Thrones?'”

Three acts that received the most enjoyment included Hedwig the drag queen, played by Zachary Allen, who sang “Origin of Love,” Ian the troubled businessman who danced and stripped his way around the stage ending up in nothing but black, leather spandex with a furry tail and mask, and finally Empty Promises the bedazzled bearded lady and “The Most Popular Girl in School,” who sang the song “Popular” from the musical Wicked.

From the reactions of the house, Star Follies seemed like a hit.

“Ian, the male stripper was my favorite,” Nick Gilbert, a freshman undecided major, said. “He put himself out there and he had a good song choice.”

Millie Gibson, an international student criminology major, came out to the show with her friends to celebrate her 21 st birthday. “It was amazing; it was so funny. It was money well spent,” Gibson said.