It started with the wigs—big, white, Victorian-era, Marie Antoinette wigs. They were part of an aesthetic that had been rattling around in the mind of Rogue Worx producer Sarah Sperber last year.
On the heels of the company’s long-running hit show from 2022, #MILLENNIAL, with its ’90s emphasis and contemporary snark, Sperber had in mind an entirely different look and feel—something darker and more twisted, even Tim Burton-ish. Where to set such a spectacle? Why, a Virginia City brothel, of course!
The result was Hush, currently running every Friday at Reno’s The Theatre. This immersive mystery cabaret weaves a tale of murder and mayhem through dreamy dance numbers, burlesque, powerful vocals, lavish costumes, acrobatics and comedy. Though it was originally slated for only three performances in February, tickets began selling so quickly that the company extended it through March.
As the story opens, we meet the ladies of the House of Hush and their frequent client, Denver Slick (played by Tony Deal); the tangled web of relationships they keep is revealed. Suddenly, Denver is shot. Who’s the killer, and why?
Our emcee, Fancy, the madame of the House of Hush (played by drag artist Aspen Meadows), guides us as we meet each suspect one by one, in a cabaret-style revue of lip sync, dance, acrobatics and comedy numbers, leading us toward our killer. Vignettes are interspersed with sepia-toned videos, shot in a Virginia City saloon, in which local burlesque performer John Wade narrates the mystery of Denver Slick’s murder.
Solving the murder, I’d argue, is nearly an afterthought. Though the show is billed as an “immersive murder mystery,” don’t come in expecting to wear your crime-solving cap. Rather, this show is all about spectacle, sensuality and flat-out silliness. This PG-13 show’s immersive quality comes from Fancy’s rapport with the audience as she hams it up, making attendees part of the show (though I won’t spoil it by revealing how).
Though darker and slightly more subversive than Rogue Worx’s last show, Hush maintains the company’s trademark elegance, outlandish humor, stunning costumes, impressive choreography and cirque-style performances. Plenty of thrills are sprinkled in—including gravity-defying leaps, sound and light effects, and more.
Sperber kicks off the show with a powerhouse vocal number; her music selections for the show quickly get the crowd butt-dancing in their seats. Choreography by Sierra Taylor Cline, Meredith Calderas Precit and Dyon Powers showcases athleticism, aerial feats, gymnastics and tumbling. Yet the style is also fanciful and lush, with some whimsy and elements of burlesque conveyed in dance numbers performed by Sperber, Cline, Precit, Deal and Powers, along with Meghan Cooper, Shannise Mora and Sophia Billharz.
Overall, it’s a hilarious night out that’s pure entertainment from start to finish.
Rogue Worx’s production of Hush takes place at 8 p.m., Fridays, through March 31, at The Theatre, 505 Keystone Ave., in Reno. Ticket are $30 to $75. For tickets or more information, visit www.rogueworx.net/hush.