Best Theater Ensemble - 2005
Despite stints at obscure spaces like the Outer Mission's Danzhaus, Rococo Risqué, an ensemble-driven cabaret troupe and self-described purveyor of nuttiness and ballyhoo, continues to sell out shows and jar audiences from performance art tedium. Founded by a gaggle of UC Santa Cruz undergrads in 2001, the group takes you back to the good old days when vaudeville, burlesque, and commedia dell'arte were enough to keep crowds coming back for more. Equipped with a big band-style cluster of five to seven musicians and an acting pool of 14 who perform a range of satiric sketches, musical interludes, and feats of physical prowess, Rococo Risqué combines nostalgia with a wicked attention to affairs of the state. A recent USO cabaret show, Liberties Taken, swept viewers through camp parody and mordantly hilarious skits like "The Real World: Fallujah," while gracefully sprinkling its polemic with distinctive comedic hijinks. It's one hell of a variety show that's just as likely to do Josephine Baker as it is Saturday Night Live.