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Entertainment Arts

Burlesque duo featured on Sundance show

This has been a good year for Baltimore representation in the New York theater scene.

In March, Trixie Little and the Evil Hate Monkey, the madcap acrobatic burlesque performers known for any number of adventures in Charm City, had their first off-Broadway show. This month, Michael Patrick Flanagan Smith, who directed some Baltimore ventures for that duo years ago, saw his play "Woody Guthrie Dreams" open off-off-Broadway.

Although the Trixie/Monkey production of "All or Nothing" at the Ars Nova Theater was only for two weeks, a taste of it can be savored soon in an episode of "Unleashed by Garo" — that's fanciful fashion designer Garo Sparo — scheduled to air Sept. 30 on the Sundance Channel.

"We've been using Garo to do our costumes for about two years," Little said. "We've typically had more performers in our shows, but this was just the two of us, and it was the biggest thing we've ever done."

For a crucial part of the show, Little had very specific outfits in mind.

"We wanted half-puppet costumes," she said, "with a life-size human head on our shoulders, representing our arch rivals, Dixie and the Love Chimp. We wanted Garo to make it possible for us to get in and out of these costumes in 30 seconds, a tall order."

To make the heads jutting from those costumes extra vivid, Little turned to Baltimore mask-maker Willy Richardson.

"They're really intense and gory," Little said. "We asked Garo to put the heads on the costumes in a way that we would be to be able to rip them off and have them be all bloody, with entrails falling out." (This is not your father's burlesque.)

For the Sundance program, cameramen followed the costume design and production process and trailed the performers through opening night.

"It was hard not to laugh during filming," Little said. "We're friends with all those guys in Garo's shop. He's been doing burlesque and drag costumes on the sly for years. It's great to see him get this recognition."

"Unleashed by Garo" airs at 9 p.m. Sept. 30 on the Sundance Channel.

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