Model City Cabaret

Members of Model City Cabaret performed the first ‘Peerlesque’ burlesque show at the Peerless Saloon on July 26.

Tim Barton/Special to The Star

Hollana Wood is employed as a critical care nurse, but in her free time, she unleashes a more theatrical side. "I love all kinds of stage performances, from monologues to Shakespeare to musicals," she said. "I enjoy performing live theater and doing stand-up comedy, but my favorite form of entertainment is burlesque."

That is why, in February, she teamed up with Stephanie Owens and Joanna Hanson to form Model City Cabaret.

Owens is a busy mother of three with a background in dance, who teaches yoga and Pilates classes and enjoys choreographing musical numbers.

Hanson is a business management student who is an active member of the Alabama National Guard. "Joanna is very good at negotiating our bookings," Wood said. "And she manages two very successful venues."

One afternoon, while enjoying a meal at the Peerless in downtown Anniston, Wood chatted with the restaurant’s owner, Kristy Farmer, about the establishment’s colorful past. The more she thought about it, the more Wood knew the place would be the perfect spot for a cabaret show.

She shared her thoughts with Farmer and, after a few brainstorming sessions, the "Peerlesque" show was launched on July 26.

"The burlesque movement first migrated to America in the 1800s in saloons just like the Peerless," Wood said. "So we are excited to be bringing it back to Anniston."

A true burlesque show is a variety show that includes dancing, singing and comedy skits. "That is why we call our group a cabaret," Wood said. "People might assume that a burlesque show is a strip show, but it’s not."

Instead, Wood explained, true burlesque features strip tease. "The emphasis is on the word ‘tease,’" she said. "There is absolutely no nudity in our show."

Model City Cabaret features artists, both male and female, with a wide range of talents. "We have finely choreographed group dances, singers, comedians and actors," Wood said. "We even have a contortionist and a fire breather!"

The first "Peerlesque" was a sampling of what the group offers, featuring one act per performer, to give the audience a good idea of what to expect in the future. "It went very well and the place was packed," Wood said. "It was standing room only!"

Model City Cabaret will perform again at the Peerless on Aug. 16.

Contact Donna Barton at smalltalk@cableone.net.