PAWTUCKET —Feather boas, fishnets, and the glamor of “old style Vegas” will dominate the stage at downtown Pawtucket's House of Mood during two special shows this month.
Called “Vintage Vegas,” these lavishly entertaining productions, scheduled for July 13 and July 20, will also serve as fundraisers for a more serious women's health issue—the fight against breast cancer. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, a cause that happens to be close to the heart of House of Mood founder/entertainer Jennifer Kennedy.
House of Mood is the entertainment arm of the dance and fitness studio that Kennedy operates in a spacious, renovated mill area at the Kellaway Center, 461 Main St. The dancer and fitness instructor moved her studio to the downtown mill two years ago after having outgrown her previous quarters at the Hope Artiste Village. With its large windows, high ceilings and polished wood floors, the new space is ideally suited to its purpose: fitness and dance studio by day and intimate, cabaret-style theater by night.
The two July shows present a variety of dancers, lounge singers and other artists performing cabaret, pole art and burlesque. Kennedy describes the production as “vintage Vegas showgirls” and “old Hollywood” style that is heavy on the glitz, humor and energy. Beer and wine will be available for purchase, and there are door prizes and a “sexy shoe” raffle.
“Burlesque is back. It is a big thing in Boston and New York, and I want to give people a taste of it here in Rhode Island,” says Kennedy, who will also be performing in the Vintage Vegas shows. “It's something totally different. And it's great for couples. I say, 'make it a date night and come down to the House of Mood!'” she enthused.
Born in England and with a Caribbean background, the energetic Kennedy has been teaching dance and fitness classes for over 30 years. She says her passion is cabaret, jazz, salsa and pole dancing, and she used to have her own cabaret troop that performed on cruise chips when they would dock at St. Thomas.
Kennedy's “day job” involves running her fitness and dance studio, which offers year-round classes in pole fitness (at all levels, from beginner to advanced), chair fitness, zumba, belly dancing, and basic burlesque.
“I really enjoy doing what I do, which is empowering women,” states Kennedy, a five-year breast cancer survivor. She said she tries to espouse “the ultimate lifestyle of fitness” and seeks to help others find a way to enjoy fitness.
Through the more sensual moves of pole dancing and burlesque, Kennedy said she sees women become transformed from their everyday roles into something freer and more uninhibited. She also directs several of her instructors and longtime students when they don sequins, stilettos and boas to perform as the Fringe Girls. Using stage names like Cherry Blossom, Yummy Hearts and Ary Velour, the women perform cabaret, burlesque and pole dancing in monthly shows at the House of Mood and also for corporate events or as opening acts for other performers.
“These women have regular jobs during the daytime. This is a passion...the arts. They have fun, kicking their heels up,” Kennedy says.
JM Kennedy Fitness also does bachelorette parties and other events, featuring pole dancing lessons combined with fruit and champagne.
For the shows on July 13 and 20, tickets cost $25 each and will be sold at the door. There is also VIP seating available. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and the shows begin at 8:30 p.m. Patrons must be 21 or older. Free parking is available in the courtyard through the Pine Street entrance to the Kellaway Center. For more information, call 401-641-2234.
For information on classes, visit www.jmkennedyentertainment.com .