curtain call

Naughty nightlife gets a magical makeover at this new Brooklyn hotspot

Company XIV
Company XIV’s ‘Cocktail Magique.’ Photo by Deneka Peniston for Company XIV.

Welcome to Curtain Call, our mostly queer take on the latest openings on Broadway and beyond.

The Rundown:

It’s been several years since Bushwick, Brooklyn, solidified its spot on the map for Gen Z and millennial New Yorkers looking to frolic and fawn over one another amid late-night haunts and buzzy beer gardens. Creator, producer, and cocktail-maker (we’ll get to that later) Austin McCormick founded the scintillating Company XIV in 2006, bopping around different Manhattan locations until settling into a permanent home in an outer borough former warehouse in 2017.

The naughty theatrical dance troupe now opens its second space, the more intimate Cocktail Magique Theatre, for an evening of burlesque, magic, libations, tarot card readings, and cirque-style revelry.

Company XIV
Kylie Rose in Company XIV’s ‘Cocktail Magqiue.’ Photo by Deneka Peniston for Company XIV.

No Tea, No Shade:

Incense hangs in the air as you enter the vestibule, which features a quaint bar stand overshadowed by a wall-mounted crystal ball. Pass through floor-to-ceiling velvet curtains, and you arrive in a narrow, Prohibition-style speakeasy. A bar runs the room’s length, with several rows of stage-side seating, couches, and high-top tables.

Leaving no rhinestone or pasty unturned, resident costume and scenic designer (along with the atmospheric lighting of Brian Tovar) Zane Pihlström creates a seductive backdrop for illusion, maximizing every inch of the unconventional space.

Those who splurge on a luxe couch for two with a fortune teller upgrade will be whisked pre-show or during one of the two intermissions through the bustling kitchen dishing out vegan dumplings and faux fried chicken for a quick reading from singer-actor and cartomancy expert Chelsea Ng. Company XIV’s brilliance is its use of multi-hyphenate talent who don’t dare stay in their lane. McCormick, who’s choreographed for the Metropolitan Opera, Kennedy Center, and other more stoic venues, loosens the reigns with his own company.

Company XIV
Mia Victoria Preisser in Company XIV’s ‘Cocktail Magique.’ Photo by Curtis Brown for Company XIV.

“I’m very much inspired by the performers in the company and what their unique talents are, so it’s certainly a jumping-off point in terms of how to utilize these amazing performers of XIV,” said McCormick in an interview with The Broadway Blog. “Even though the company’s such a mixture of genres — circus, burlesque, all these things — at its core, everybody really has a strong dance background.”

McCormick has less room to play in the new space but uses every inch of the narrow bar stage, along with a few immersive moments among the audience. The result is more atmospheric and less spectacle than past Company XIV productions (Nutcracker Rouge returns this season for parent-proof holiday fare at the company’s larger venue). Nevertheless, there’s still plenty of eye candy to drink in addition to the craft cocktails featuring recipes concocted by McCormick himself, such as the Lucid Dream — an intoxicating concoction of bourbon, lavender, liqueur, absinthe, and butterfly pea blossom.

Let’s Have a Moment:

Company XIV Cocktail Magique
Sam Urdang Company XIV’s ‘Cocktail Magique.’ Photo by Deneka Peniston for Company XIV.

“Be careful how you play your cards when you have a queen in your hands,” says the mischievous Sam Urdang, who acts as a master of ceremonies, resident magician, and sophisticated stripper. In one moment, he’s juggling ping pongs with his mouth, only later to swallow a $20 bill from the audience. The “object manipulation specialist” (as his Instagram page self-describes) is one of nine adaptive performers with many tricks up their sleeves. Craving a tap-dancing bucket of chicken? It makes total sense at the moment.

The Last Word:

From teacup cocktails to a mash-up song list that includes everything from an excerpt of the 1920’s-era musical The Boy Friend to “Ice Cream Man” by Tom Waits, Cocktail Magique stays true to McCormick and Pihlström’s wildly inventive imaginations. How long will their latest incarnation last? You’ll have to turn to the cards for an answer, but if this pair has any say, they’ve got plenty of magic to do.

Cocktail Magique is currently on sale through January 29, 2023.

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