Sunday 29 December 2013

Appleton Productions: The Tease Bar December 2013

As you all know I produced my first show as Appleton Productions on 11th December. It was held on a Wednesday night and I had been frantically planning everything over the last few weeks. I wanted to experience running a show and everything that it takes to run a show from start to finish. Little did I know I would end up having a whirlwind experience being a producer, stage manager and stage kitten all in one go! I wanted to experience everything and I sure did and below you can share the experience with me!

I have watched MANY burlesque shows this last year and I have always wanted to get behind the scenes which I have managed to do this year with my interviews. I wanted to go that step further and run a show myself. I took on the challenge and found a local venue to work with to make this happen. I had done my research of course, being a journalist and a sales person I needed to know what I was doing would have an audience, the right audience and that there would be a demand locally for what I wanted to produce. I am proud to say I am the only show of this kind in my local area aside from An Evening of Burlesque. I wanted to recreate to intimate feel of the shows I see in London, in my home town and keep that same high quality.

The venue I am working with is The Tea Bar, a perfect venue for what I wanted to do. As you will see from the pictures the d├ęcor is spot on for the vintage feel, a working piano, stage area, cocktails in teapots, low candle lighting and friendly warm feel. What more could I want!?

Now I had to learn the basics of producing a show! I had to decide on who I wanted in my show, what kind of acts and types of performers. NOT an easy job by any means! I wanted to introduce people gently to burlesque with a very classic evening. The first half of the show was very much true classic burlesque and the second half of the show with a little added spice. I decided on performers Chrys Columbine, Lena Mae, Bonnie Fleur, Bexi Owen and Miss Jones.  A couple I had seen perform live on many occasions and some I had never seen which involved discussions, many CV’s and show clips etc to help my decisions. I was confident I had the perfect mixture of acts and ladies to make this great. It’s really not easy to pull the show run together. I must have watched around 50 videos, viewed profiles, websites, CV’s etc.

Once I had my A-team of performers I needed to have my A-team of support and create the perfect show run. It took me around 5 attempts of planning the run before I was happy. I had to work out timings, what acts were to go in what half, what order each would perform, all props and stage instructions involved, all music required, all clean-up for each act organised. Not simple, I thought it would be something that would take 5 minutes….how wrong! Hours more like!!!

And of course the list of things to arrange started to develop…

Stage Kitten
Artwork Design
Dressing Rooms and equipment like Mirrors etc
Running order
I had 3 meetings with the venue, a meeting with my stage kitten to discuss layout etc and with the photographer to discuss layout of the show, lighting, access etc. I also had a huge amount of communication with the performers by Facebook, email and phone before the night.

I am a self-confessed OCD organised freak…..I need to be in full control and it’s a great thing in some ways and terrible in others! I wanted to have the show run arranged as early as possible, cover every potential problem and be totally on top of things. After all this was all totally new to me, I had never produced a show before or been a stage manager so much of my planning came from discussions with my burly pals who helped to get me on track. I am my own worst critic too!

I worked with the graphic designer to ensure the posters and online artwork and my own stamp on it as well and working in the venues style, of course I had to choose the name for my show. It was so simple for me. The Tea Bar would change to ‘The Tease Bar’ for my shows – It’s such a simple yet effective play on words and a great name for a show.  There was a lot of back and forth over design however I feel the end result was something very special especially given the short notice to produce! Props to the designer Chris Dale for the effort gone into this. The artwork made its way around social media, the top 10 news stories on the local newspapers website and in newspaper print the week before the show! The poster was also up at the venue too.

As an extra special touch we included a champagne reception and posters for autographs for the audience to take away and arranged a photo opportunity as this is something I crave for as a fan. I don’t often see an opportunity for this and I feel it really helps you connect with the performer when you get the chance to meet them personally.

There were a few issues of course…it’s a first show! There will always be a few hiccups! As you know I am always very honest! Rather than sit here and say how perfect and easy it all was….(well who wants to hear that) I want you to see how things went faults and all! The reality is that it’s far from easy and things can go wrong….it’s the effort you put in and how you manage each situation that’s important! For me it was that my stage kitten (and right hand lady) couldn’t make the show due to illness. This of course threw me into major panic however I knew she was the other end of the phone, my lovely performers would help me every step of the way too. Also my compere and performer was stuck in traffic in the fog and pressure started mounting! Not to mention we needed to somehow find 8 batteries and a banana last minute….make of that what you will! However in the most professional way it caused no issue other than being ever so slightly behind, traffic cannot be helped and the show went on without a hitch! Also the posters for autographs came through with a performer missing…not ideal but also not a major drama just a reminder to organise even further in advance in case of any issues like this.

In the grand scheme of things the issues that at the time that were massive to me, an OCD control freak really are tiny and unnoticeable to an audience and wouldn’t have affected their experience at all. I learnt to roll with it and relax…slightly!

Here are some photos from the first half! All photos by Laura Donohoe Photography.

We then had a 25 minute interval in which I ran around like a loon choosing my entries for the best dressed competition and working with the ladies.

Here are some photos from the second half! During the second half we presented the finalists for the best dressed competition and chose a winner by audience participation. The winner was presented with a cocktail teapot for their table. I thought this to be a nice touch and a little added fun. 





As you will see from the photos it really was a great evening. For a first show I thought it went brilliantly. I wish I could have had a reporter for total honest feedback however the performers who are very experienced had great things to say about the show and I have received lovely feedback from audience members too.
It’s safe to say for next time I have learnt a few things to change; I have experienced things not going to plan and last minute issues and how to deal with them. I understand how help and support is vital and really appreciate everyone involved. It’s not something at all that can be thrown together and made to happen by myself. I need support, I need certain help and it takes experience in the industry, organisation, and communication and time, effort and dedication to make it perfect.

I need help….I HAVE to have a stage kitten/help as being the show producer, stage manager and stage kitten means I am too stretched for time! I was running around like a crazy lady and would have preferred to feel more in control than I did and have a little more time to ensure things run smoothly.

I had the best DJ (Nathan Duncombe) and photographer (Laura Donohoe Photography) anyone could ask for. True professionals that delivered what was required and dealt with all situations put to them. Great results there and I am happy to have worked with such great people. The venue (The Tea Bar) itself was fantastic to work with, the staff all helpful and friendly, the stage set up was brilliant.

I hope in the future to work again with this venue to create some fantastic shows. I of course already have in mind performers I’d like to work with, and of course my A-Team of support to bring another awesome show. This time around I can address any issues and develop on the last show to make it better in all areas. As you can see a lot of work goes into the show you buy your ticket to go and see before its even taken place, let alone all the running around on the night. It’s a very tiring but fun experience and it’s certainly made me appreciate what I am spending my money going to see and hope the local audience will appreciate it in the same way.

My goal was to bring a top quality, London style intimate show to my home town for an evening of classic burlesque which I am confident I have done. The audience have seen some of the best in the business, had lots of laughs and fun. For the future I hope to bring top quality shows of different kinds to willing audiences.

All I will say to my burlesque virgin audience….what I am bringing really is the best of burlesque. I am a burly blogger and journalist with heaps of experience in burlesque. Please put trust in me. Also PLEASE stop watching the movie ‘Burlesque’ and expecting shows to be exactly like this!! I’d much rather people watch Dita Von Teese and Catherine D’Lish on You Tube for more mainstream burlesque exposure than believe that the film ‘Burlesque’ is exactly what you will see! I am not slating the film, I respect it for what it is…entertainment. But many people would agree that it’s not true burlesque! It’s named this due to the venue being called Burlesque. I would suggest anyone interested in burlesque researches the true history of burlesque and the US and UK scenes and performers first. Burlesque is varied, all various kinds of performers and acts…and yes there is stripping/nudity involved! It’s not a singing only show! Anything goes! Please keep an open mind; I am sure you will be impressed, as were these happy customers and performers:

 “I went to the Burlesque Show at The Tea Bar and what a night! All the girls were amazing. From what I could 
see, everybody had a great view. The girls worked the room and made it a fab night! I will definitely be going back next time. The only thing I could ask is that the next show is sooner rather than later!”

Charlie Karen Hobbs

“The planning and execution of the show was evidently well produced and was flawless. From the venue to the girl’s performances the evening was fun, enjoyable and exciting. It promised class, sophistication and tease and delivered all three. The organisers, performers and hosts did an amazing job in creating a wonderful evening of burlesque.......well done to all and I can't wait for the next one!” J

Kristy Cullum

"It's been a while since I've been part of a burlesque show... I was so excited when Leanna asked me to do her very first one as I'm a huge fan of just about every kind of work she produces. Appleton Productions' first ever The Tease Bar blew me away! A fantastic and varied line-up of fellow-performers, impeccable structure and order (though far from surprising considering the way she runs here blog and other writing outputs), and no faults or hiccups that could be picked-upon! All-in-all, I would say, it was a bit of a success story, and will continue to be!"
Chrys Columbine – International star and headliner of The Tease Bar

“The atmosphere backstage was really friendly and welcoming, made better by the encouraging audience members. It was also nice to mingle with some members of the audience after the show."
Bonnie Fleur – Burlesque Performer

I would love to do more shows locally. Of course a Friday or Saturday night are prime as people feel they can drink more with the weekend and of course stay out late! I know there is the audience locally and people will find my shows an enjoyable fun evening. So stay tuned for hopefully more to come in 2014 for Appleton Productions.

I would of course like to thank the venue The Tea Bar for putting on such an awesome show and having such friendly staff for help and support when needed. Also of course a thank you to everyone involved helping me including the photographer, DJ, graphic designer, all the burly pals who gave me advice. Not to mention my fantastic performers Chrys Columbine, Lena Mae, Bonnie Fleur, Miss Jones and Bexi Owen. I loved each and every performance and got to know some truly amazing ladies. I would recommend them to any other promoter or fan wanting to see a show, these girls are brilliant and worth seeing!


To celebrate the success of my first show I am giving away not one but two sets of signed artwork from the night. There is a full cast signed poster (with its flaw and all!) and a signed Appleton Productions leaflet.

In order to give these away I of course want you to enter my Facebook competition! Head over to Appleton Productions here or clicking on the tab on the home page to see the competition status! All I want from you is to like the page and share the status and tell me you’ve done both by way of commenting! The same will run on Appleton Pin Up Girls Facebook page too! And on New Year’s Day I will pick 2 winners – one from each page! Simple! 

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