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Bijou Theatre to celebrate 110th birthday

Vaudeville Extravaganza on March 15 will celebrate
Featuring Seven Acts in Classic Variety Show

KNOXVILLE - On Friday, March 8 the Bijou Theatre turns 110, solidifying its place as the oldest original surviving theatre in East Tennessee. To celebrate, the Bijou Theatre will host a Vaudeville Extravaganza​ on Friday, March 15.

bijou theatre
Gay Street and The Bijou Theatre 110 years ago; image submitted

Tickets are on sale now for an evening of entertainment that will revive highlights of the Vaudeville Era with performances by acclaimed New York City jazz band Sammy Miller & the Congregation; Knoxville’s own Salome Cabaret; "Professional Purveyor of Good Times” Deanna Danger; baritone Brandon Gibson of Marble City Opera; magician Michael Messing; circus artist Kinetic Kristen; and burlesque act The Candybox Revue.

bijou theatre
The Bijou Theatre as it is today; image submitted

Burlesque performer Blanche DeBris (headliner of the 2018 Smoky Mountain Burlesque Festival) will serve as mistress of ceremonies, weaving the night’s performances together with captivating stories of the Bijou’s eclectic history as host of the vaudeville arts through the ages.

Tickets to this astonishing show are only $19.09, a nod to the year the doors of the Bijou first opened to entertain the people of East Tennessee. VIP tickets are available for $50 and include a premium seat location and a commemorative poster designed and printed by Status Serigraph.

This Vaudeville Extravaganza is presented by First Bank.

Tickets are available at the Tennessee Theatre box office, by phone at 865-684-1200 and online at

The Bijou Theatre opened March 8, 1909, to a sellout crowd, hosting a production of "Little Johnny Jones" starring George M. Cohan. The ​Knoxville Sentinel​ proclaimed the Bijou Theatre to be "one of the best constructed and most conveniently arranged houses in the entire south". At the height of Vaudeville’s popularity the Lamar House, which was built in 1801, converted their ballroom into the Bijou Theatre. Vaudeville was the mainstay of the theatre from 1913 to 1926, with the occasional motion picture being shown as well. At the height of the vaudeville era, the theatre drew some of the stars of the day, from Will Rogers to the Marx Brothers to John Phillip Sousa.


Blanche DeBris
Blanche DeBris has been entertaining herself and occasionally others for more years than she can reliably count. “If America had a sweetheart, Blanche would be her well-meaning but less attractive best friend.” She made her burlesque debut at the Moisture Festival in Seattle in 2008 and has returned repeatedly as a performer and co-host. Since 2012, she has been an emcee of the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekender, the burlesque world’s premier annual international event. In 2019 she was an invited presenter at BurlyCon, bringing her new workshop, “Kindness: A Revolutionary Act” to the convention. But most of all, Blanche strives to brighten the burlesque world with her boundless joy, enthusiasm, optimism, and bewilderment.

Salome Cabaret
Salomé Cabaret offers a liberal and modern interpretation of burlesque and vaudeville. Salomé Cabaret is nationally award-winning and Knoxville’s longest running burlesque troupe, celebrating 11 years in 2019. The cast throws convention aside along with their bras creating shows that are original, innovative and new. Performances are sometimes risqué and often suggestive, but always retain the modest sensibility of the era in which the art form of burlesque originated. True to the history of vaudeville, the sultry stripteases are balanced by live vocal performances and laugh-out-loud comedic hijinks, which is almost as much a reason to see a show as the performers themselves. This campy, vampy show is sure to leave you feeling teased in more ways than one!

Deanna Danger
“Professional Purveyor of Good Times,” Deanna Danger is an international performance artist, events producer, culture-maker, and the Headmistress of Boom Boom Basics Burlesque & Performing Arts Studio. Ms. Danger is Richmond’s reigning “Best Burlesque Performer,” Richmond’s 2016 “Entertainer of the Year,” and 2012 1st Place “Crystal Corset Award” winner of the Pennsylvania Burlesque Festival. She is the producer/director of Butchertown Burlesque,a vintage-classic, live jazz & blues + burlesque nightlife series appearing across the state of Virginia.

Brandon Gibson
Brandon Gibson is a very active performer in the East Tennessee area. An accomplished singer, a stage and voice actor, and special event host he has worked with numerous organizations, churches, festivals, charities, and other solo artists of various disciplines and genres on a variety of projects ranging from poetry readings, documentaries, popular music, and dance performances, to Shakespeare plays, operas, new works and musicals. Currently, he serves as Marble City Opera's, General Director.

Michael Messing
Magician Michael Messing is one of the South's most popular entertainers. He has been presenting magic shows for more than 30 years. He was voted “Best Party Entertainer” by the readers of East Tennessee Parent magazine and was inducted into the prestigious “Order of Merlin” by the International Brotherhood of Magicians. “I want my show to be exciting, amazing and, most of all, fun,” Messing says. “That’s what entertainment is all about. I want everyone to be as involved as possible, and to say they had a really good time.”

Kinetic Kristen
KineticKristenslings hoops, wrangles a Cyr wheel, and flips, kicks and splits her way through every performance. After following her love of music to Nashville, she ran away with the real circus! This spunky powerhouse honed her crafts at the New England Center for Circus Arts in Vermont, and has performed as an international professional circus artist and burlesque dancer since 2009. Infamous for existing solely on caffeine and rock ‘n’ roll, Kinetic Kristen imbues her acts with a fierce rock star attitude and tricks to make you say, “What. The. F*%^!”

The Candybox Revue
The Candybox Revue is an equal opportunity burlesque troupe. The Candybox Revue mission is to provide quality entertainment, showcase artistic and individual diversity, support heartfelt causes in and around our community, and consistently raise the bar for Burlesque and variety entertainment production.

Sammy Miller & the Congregation
A native of Los Angeles, Grammy® nominated drummer Sammy Miller has become known for his relentless focus on making music that feels good as a drummer, singer, and bandleader. Upon completing his Master’s at The Juilliard School, Sammy formed his ensemble, The Congregation. As a band, they share the power of community through their music—joyful jazz.

Published March 7, 2019

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