Who We Are
Verlaine & McCann are the progenitors of the “spectacle of ecdysiastic pageantry”, a professional-grade variety entertainment that includes elements of burlesque, ballet, musical theater, and vaudeville. Following the traditions of the great musical revues of Zigfield and the vaudeville and burlesque of Minksy’s, Verlaine & McCann provide entertainments for the discerning audience who understand and appreciate the style and glamor of that by-gone era.
Since 2006, Verlaine and McCann have redefined the face of burlesque and cabaret entertainment in Seattle, Washington and have pushed the boundaries of the form for ten years. Eschewing the solo-based burlesque ideal that dominated cabaret performance in the ’90s and early 2000s, Verlaine & McCann instead built productions where the ensemble gives life to fantastic burlesque stories; worlds filled with exquisite movement, hilarious comedy, delightful songs, and a sensual reverence to the human form that can be accepted as art and entertainment by the higher common sense of theatergoers in the Pacific Northwest.
Lily Verlaine is the great niece of Ida Verlaine, who made her debut into the public imagination in Henry Miller’s Sexus: The Rosy Crucifixion and played burlesque stages to mass acclaim in the Upper Midwest. Ida inspired many of the most lascivious passages in Sexus, a book that was banned as obscene for 15 years. Under Ida’s spotlight, Lily absorbed the art of seduction and a tempestuous temperament. Lily made her stage debut at age four at the Michael A. Guido Theater in Dearborn, Michigan in the role of “Skunk With Great Personality”. While suited to the acting profession from a young age, Lily aspired to a career in classical ballet. Though gifted with presence and high arches, her libertine personality was unsuited to the rigors of classical dance and she found her true calling on burlesque stages, where her natural attributes were given ample space to develop.
Jasper McCann grew up in Kansas City, where he spent most of his youth entranced by the neon window signs and music that set the scene on 18th and Vine, where he herd the symphonic jazz of the Ellington band, the swung blues of Count Basie, and the young saxophone prodigy Charlie Parker.
The son of two teachers, his youth was not one of luxury, but he managed to escape work and stay in school. At age 8, his elementary-school music teacher Joyce Salisbury discovered McCann’s natural affinity for singing, and fostered it. Joyce was a formidable piano player in her own right, and would often play boogie-woogie in between big band sets at the Hey Hay Club. McCann explained his dream to sing with a big band, and Salisbury encouraged him, but of course he was far too young to enter the clubs. Through a series of cons, she started to bring McCann along to her gigs as her orphan nephew, where he would sometimes sing but most often canvased the club to get Joyce more tips. She paid him in vocal lessons, experience, and Pepsi.
He graduated 8th grade and went to find his fortune, crooning his way through the Vaudeville houses of the midwest and mid-south, with longer stints in Memphis, Toledo, Cincinnati, and Chicago, and developed his quick wit and writing skills by handily dealing with burlesque-show hecklers. His first musical revue, “The Follies Excelsior”, played in Chicago for seven months to luke-warm reviews.
Verlaine & McCann met in Seattle, Washington, where Verlaine was traveling with the lackluster “Daredevils, Dames and Dink-a-Doo Revue”. McCann was drumming in the house orchestra at the Empire Theater where the revue had taken residence. What happened next would change their lives forever.
Due to a horrible human-cannonball accident during a late-night performance, they were both whisked to the hospital, where they met in the smoking lounge while awaiting triage. McCann lit Verlaine’s cigarette. They struck up conversation about how they deserved better then their current lot in life, and their friendship and artistic collaboration began.