Theater review: Teatro Del Gusto launches at The Orange Peel

The group behind Teatro del Gusto calls the cabaret circus a “feast for the senses.” The new series, which premiered at The Orange Peel on July 13, included vaudeville, burlesque, and classic circus entertainment.

Local rockers Red Honey opened the show with a set of half a dozen tunes — some original and some covers. Lead singer Erika Jane Ferraby alternated between wielding a mean guitar and a cat of nine tails that she used to wail on a cymbal, providing precise percussive licks. Future Teatro del Gusto installments will include other bands with sets before and after the main feature.

Madame Onca O’Leary gave the audience a  couple of dazzling vocal numbers, despite being unseen throughout the majority of the show. The true star was ringmaster Paulo Garbanzo, who acted as a through line. Garbanzo is a superior juggler, as well as a natural comedic presence, whose playful banter with the audience gave the show charm and personality.

Co-host, Mark Slomski, who sang and clowned around with Garbanzo throughout, was far too laid back and his presence felt out of sync with the rest of the show, despite a couple of fun and funny musical numbers. When not singing, he simply lacked the energy required to keep this sort of show afloat.

There were some dazzling moments with a trio of aerialists, who used three sets of silks to their fullest. There were also several instances of beautiful women performing classic striptease onstage. The performance was in a style popular during the early last century, and what people found to be titillating back then is downright tame by today’s standards.

All in all, the evening was a success. There were laughs, cheers and a bit of audience participation. Teatro del Gusto shows much promise of becoming a new Asheville tradition.

Teatro del Gusto returns on Sunday, Aug. 17, at the Orange Peel. $17 in advance, $20, day of show.

About Jeff Messer
playwright, actor, director and producer, Jeff Messer has been most recently known as a popular radio talk show host. He has been a part of the WNC theatre scene for over 25 years, and actively works with and supports most of the theatres throughout the region. Follow me @jeffdouglasmess

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