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Review: An evening of burlesque at Castellana in the Spiegeltent Cardiff

Credit: Natalie Rolley

Castellana is back by popular demand following its debut last year and you’re in for a real treat.

Yes there is naughty, but there is also nice… very very nice in fact. So sit back, relax and let us tell you what to expect from Castellana, narna, narna this year.

Returning to the stage is Ian Stroughair with sensational alter ego Velma Celli as the master of ceremonies. Velma of course is no stranger to the magic of the Spiegeltent, having starred in Castellana in 2022. So, expect more cheek than chic with knockout vocals and pure drag artistry.

It isn’t all fun and games, although there is plenty of that. Velma has a job to do and will be cracking the whip to keep the talent in check to make sure the night goes without a hitch. That goes for the audience too, so if you’re feeling flirty or dirty, watch out, you’ll get as good as you give, better in fact.

But, who could possibly keep Velma in line?

Well, that’s down to Cardiff’s very own Justine Marie Mead, who belts out a tune or two, may be three. Justine is fresh from starring in the smash hit Greatest Night of the Jazz Age in London and is absolutely no stranger to the stage. 

You’ll either be singing from the rooftops with her or crying with laughter at Velma’s saucy rendition of the Christmas Song. No matter how you look at it, you’ll probably find musical bones you didn’t know you had, if you know what I mean… music of course, silly.

Credit: Natalie Rolley.

World renowned talent has been brought together to create this spectacular show, including burlesque superstar Miss Betsy Rose. Betsy is one of London’s most prestigious headline Burlesque performers and has captivated audiences on every continent around the globe since 2009, and has now found herself in Cardiff of all places. Just kidding…

Credit: Natalie Rolley.

Betsy’s vintage Burlesque look and feel is an instant hit with audience members. A real 1920s class act. As well as performing her own acts, she regularly sways in to grab the audience’s attention to reveal the next act. This year’s show has been designed to give as much creative freedom to the acts as possible, so they can flow in and out of their performances as they please.

Credit: Natalie Rolley.

You will also be blown away by the swinging sensation that is Jimmy Wong. Jimmy always captures the eyes of the audience, not because he is fit because he is. You’ll be fixated on him as he takes to the skies of the Spiegeltent with aerial straps and aerial pole techniques. It comes as no surprise to us that he has performed for many shows and events in Europe, North America and Asia.

Credit: Natalie Rolley.

Bringing camaraderie to the evening’s entertainment is the incredibly agile Chloe Hannah Lloyd. I’ll try not to spoil her act, but she is pretty fly. Chloe quite literally transforms herself into a ‘human slinky’ and wows audiences with her acrobatics and hoop dancing. I couldn’t count how many hoops she had going at once, but all I know is I can’t manage one. As soon as the lights go down and the hoops start spinning, you will be mesmerised by this girl’s talents. 

Credit: Natalie Rolley.

The incredible duo that is Ben Brown and Jonathan Finch take it up a notch yet again. This is where circus, sex and sassiness really intertwine to bring you the true meaning of burlesque and ‘Castellana’. There seems to be no limits to their talents. They perform separately and together in a variety of acts including incredible aerial acrobatics.

Credit: Natalie Rolley.

Things really heat up when Penny Valent takes to the stage. She has this kinky Blackadder thing going on, which the audience gushed over. It turns out the correct term was highwayman act, but you know what I mean. Penny kept it pretty straight faced until she cracked that whip and I think she really enjoyed that bit by her facial expression. Don’t blame her, it looked like so much fun!

Credit: Natalie Rolley.

For Penny’s second act, she played with fire, no really, she did.  I’m no historian, but I’m pretty sure she was going for an Aztec warrior woman look and feel – if Penny was, she really pulled it off. But as you may tell, I didn’t do well in history, so I could be way off base here. The audience loved it though. Penny has set stages alight all over the world, from Las Vegas to Paris, and featured in films, music videos and TV productions. Now Penny is lighting up the night sky of Cardiff.

Credit: Natalie Rolley.

I couldn’t find much out about the Castellana power couple, Paul and Louise (I am assuming they are). Earlier in the show, you see them go hand to hand in an incredible show of strength and concentration, which will leave you gasping as they defy physics. I should also point out, I wasn’t very good at science either. But put simply, gravitational forces must not apply in Castellana.

Paul & Louise return to the stage for the finale where this roller-skating duo bring dance, acrobatics and sizzle to a teeny weeny stage. The two of them have an incredible energy and connection, and you can see they really enjoyed themselves performing along to Def Leppard’s ‘Pour Some Sugar on Me’. Such a hit!

There were a couple of slips, but that’s ok. What makes Castellana so different is the intimate surroundings created by Spiegeltent itself. The seats go right up to the stage. It isn’t often you get the chance to sit so close and witness first hand raw talent like this. It’s quite believable when you think about it and see it for yourself.

Credit: Wales 247 / Rhys Gregory

For those feeling a bit peckish, you can grab a German sausage in the village area or order yourselves a banging Dough Thrower pizza before the show begins.

Inside the Spiegeltent, the Fortuna Bar is serving alcoholic and soft drinks, popcorn and snacks. 
Looking to be entertained this Christmas? Check out Castellana for a night you’ll never forget.
The Cardiff Christmas Festival is brought to you by Live Under the Stars Cardiff and Jamboree Entertainment.

Castellana takes place from 1 to 24 December, in the magical Fortuna Spiegeltent, part of Cardiff Christmas Festival at its new home in Sophia Gardens.

Find out more and book tickets online – https://www.thecastle.wales/castellana/about/

Age 16 +