Don your best flapper dress and head to the Velvet Underground Coffee Shop and Bar for Daisy's Day Speakeasy
, an interactive theater and dance performance running weekends from September 10 to September 25. The speakeasy will be hosted by Bizarre Cafe, the experimental-theater arm of Factory Five Five, an arts collective that opened in Aurora in January 2020.
Attendees can expect a mysterious experience from the moment they arrive. The bar-turned-speakeasy will require password-protected entry through the back door.
"You'll be greeted by our pretty rowdy bouncer named Jack, who might rough you up a little bit in the parking lot," says arts entrepreneur and Factory Five Five founder Skye Barker Maa. In addition to the bouncer, the waiters inside the club are also actors in the fully immersive experience.
Barker Maa says she will play Daisy herself (named after Daisy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby
), an older club owner who's "rough around the edges, being hardened by trying to operate a Prohibition-style speakeasy in hard times."
In addition to actors who will interact with the audience, "there's vaudeville, there's a little theater, and then there are dancers who are dancing throughout," Barker Maa continues. "There are about seven showgirls involved who do skits."
And if that's not enough to entertain, there will also be a murder mystery for full Gatsby
vibes, with the audience participating in solving the crime.
Attendees will enjoy snacks and cocktails from a Prohibition-style menu designed by Iain Griffiths, Mary Allison Wright and McLain Hedges, who are behind the new creative marketing agency Jelly Bone
and the bar program at scratch-to-table restaurant Annette
. The menu will include a mojito, an Old Fashioned, a vesper martini and a French 75, all made with liquors associated with the Prohibition era.
Barker Maa and Bizarre Cafe have wanted to host a ’20s-themed immersive theater experience for a while. The idea finally came to fruition when jk-co
, the adult contemporary dance group that Barker Maa heads up, decided to integrate a full-length dance performance with an immersive theater experience. Creating a speakeasy, Barker Maa figured, would be a perfect way to flex Factory Five Five's new bar, the Velvet Underground. Daisy's Day will mark the first theater production in the space.
Swing, sing and solve a mystery.
Martha Wirth Photography
Despite the theme of the performances centering around booze and jazz, Barker Maa didn't want to sling the same old tired narrative of a young woman corrupted by decadence.
"Typically, when people talk about the jazz experience, it's always some young girl in the big city who's corrupted by jazz and booze, right? This time I was like, let's try and take a different turn in terms of which perspective we're telling our story from," Barker Maa explains. "Let's tell it either from the perspective of the waiter or from the perspective of the club owner or some more non-traditional character versus this girl who comes and bleaches her hair blond and goes a little crazy in the big city."
Barker Maa, ever-busy creative that she is, isn't done yet. Immersive cocktail experiences from Bizarre Cafe are about to become a regular thing in Aurora.
"This will be something we do once a quarter, and each show will run for about three weekends to a month," says Barker Maa. "We're already in planning for our next one, which happens in either February or March, and we'll be doing a ’60s mod flashback-type bar. So imagine classy choreo: Bob Fosse choreography, gross amounts of black eyeliner."
Daisy's Day Speakeasy is a 21-and-up event; it runs September 10, 11, 17, 18, 24 and 25 at the Velvet Underground, 10255 East 25th Avenue in Aurora. Doors open at 7 p.m., with an additional show at 9 p.m. on September 11. Face coverings and proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test within 72 hours are required. Costumes are highly recommended; for more information and to purchase tickets, visit Factory Five Five online.