Review: Feel the love at ‘Venus & the Vixens’

The show feels a lot like falling in love — it’s bold and brassy, fleshy and flashy, loud and proud, and if you’re game, it can make you do some incredibly silly things.

How long has it been since you’ve fallen in love?

You know what I’m talking about — that all-consuming state of mind when you can’t sleep, can’t eat, and can’t think about anything except your beloved, who seems like a god and makes you long to be immortal, too.

Whether you have a quick answer to that question, or if you have to sit and ponder it for a while, I have the same suggestion for you: go see “Venus & the Vixens: Games of Love,” at Emerald City Trapeze in Seattle, running Thursday through Sunday until June 16.

The show, conceived, written, and directed by Martha Enson, a longtime islander, UMO Ensemble co-founder, and Teatro Zinzanni alum, feels a lot like falling in love: it’s bold and brassy, fleshy and flashy, loud and proud, and if you’re game, it can make you do some incredibly silly things.

The show is an immersive and interactive (remember those words) rock musical that recounts the ancient love story of Cupid and Psyche, as told by Venus, the goddess of love, who is also, of course, Cupid’s mom.

Talk about a conflict of interest!

A host of other gods meddle in the action of “Venus & the Vixens,” and they are there to greet you the moment you step inside Emerald City Trapeze — look for Dionysus, Athena, Persephone, Adonis, and Artemis to tell you what to do next when you arrive.

Remember those words, “immersive and interactive?”

The fourth wall doesn’t exist in “Venus & the Vixens,” and that’s all part of the fun, too: games and icebreakers, orchestrated by the gods, and commands from Venus to hapless show-goers abound throughout the evening.

It only makes sense: a love as epic as Psyche’s and Cupid’s requires a sea of wingmen, enablers, and accomplices, and you’ll soon find yourself delightfully in the thick of the action — even if you’re the shy type, who only showed up to be entertained.

But in those moments when you do have time to sit back and remember you’re watching a show, you’ll find yourself gobsmacked by the talent on display.

Sari Breznau’s pulsing, electro-pop score for the show, played from the stage by Breznau and The Vixens — a wildly accomplished all-female rock band — is a perfect blend of Broadway, rhythm and blues, and rock opera.

Caela Bailey, as Venus, commands the stage as the selfish, sexy, and conflicted goddess of love, delivering powerhouse vocals in song after song. She also contributed additional music to the show.

Shadae Simone seems born to play the role of Psyche — a human so beautiful and graceful that her wish to live forever (spoiler alert!) will, of course, be granted.

Simone, a celebrated dancer, and burlesque artist, also choreographed the exuberant, high-stepping show.

And Joel Domenico, as Cupid, simply stuns — from an aerial flourish that is both ethereal and absurd, to his flawless, jaw-dropping delivery of the show’s best and most soaring anthem, “Choose Love.”

“Venus & the Vixens” has a special connection to Vashon. It was here, of course, that islanders Martha Enson and her longtime partner in life and spectacle, Kevin Joyce, dreamed up and started to plan the production during the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Then they reached out to all the pros they know in Seattle — including the stellar design team of “Venus & the Vixens” — to bring Enson’s joyous creative concepts to life.

Now produced by their company, EnJoy Productions, the show received significant backing from Vashon investors and contributors who believed in their vision.

So, now it’s your turn to make the trek to Seattle to see the show — and only right that a ferryman should usher you back and forth from the magical world of “Venus & the Vixens.”

Find out more and get tickets at The show, for ages 21 and older only, runs through June 16 at Emerald City Trapeze, located in Seattle at 2706 6th Ave S — an easy commute on and off the West Seattle Bridge. Food, cocktails, and other beverages, catered by The Ruby Brink, are available at the show.

Ernie Shapiro Photo
Shadae Simone, as Psyche, in “Venus & the Vixens: Games of Love.”

Ernie Shapiro Photo Shadae Simone, as Psyche, in “Venus & the Vixens: Games of Love.”