AshevillePete Zamplas

All-star variety show at Isis Music Hall


Keith Shubert “has a bug” for puppetry. Here, he performs last month. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

The show starts at 9 p.m. Asheville Vaudeville is the name of the performance troupe, and its zany adult-themed shows. It was begun in 2009, by Brian Sneeden and Thomas Butler.

Art director Jim Julien,explained “although this is not a totally St. Patrick’s Day themed show, there are some Celtic references hidden in there. There are very few snakes in the show, compared to other March 17th shows.”

One show preview description calls it “95 percent snake-free” — prompting curiosity about that other five percent. Typically in Asheville’s arts scene, a snake appears with a belly dancer.

Dancers in the show are versatile Ariel Vanator with (perhaps snaky) “dark dance,” belly dancer Sera Sahara with “grace and style,” outlandish Queen April who is the “regal and raucous ruler of comic burlesque,” veteran Sue Meringue with “sweet Irish tease,” and Elizabeth Evans with “Westeros dance stylings.”

Onkel Woland, familiar with his handlebar mustache, will tell “fractured folk tales” with acting by his Black Forest Menagerie.

Clowning puppeteer Lucky Rigel 7 (Rigel Pawlak) does “chaotic comedy.” Magician-juggler-clown Sneaky McFly presents “magical mirth” and with fiery flames. The trio Forty Fingers and a Missing Tooth does “joyous juggling.”

Puppeteers are show hostess Valerie Meiss, the “Tiny Wonder” who is also a songstress, and Keith Shubert who goes by Toybox and has “creepy” puppets. Shubert and Woland are the longtime face of the troupe. Many of these acts have been in the Asheville Fringe Arts Festival which Julien and his wife Jocelyn Reese put on, various burlesque shows, and puppet slams led by Shubert and Meiss.

Isis Music Hall and Kitchen is at 843 Haywood Rd. It opened in 2012. Scott Woody is the owner. The remodeled structure was Isis Theater, operating for 20 years (1937-57). Asheville Vaudeville regularly performed in Toy Boat Community ArtSpace in Biltmore Village, lastly on Dec. 16. But that place is getting remodeled into a craft brewery.

“Since losing our home,” Julien said, “we are trying out some shows in different venues. We hope Isis might be a good spot for us, from time to time.”

Asheville Vaudeville shows often sell out. Tickets are $20 each. They can be bought in advance online via, or at the door. For more on the troupe, check

Share this story
Show More

Related Articles