PREVIEW: Clean cut piano teacher’s descent into smoky-voiced burlesque queen

How to be a Bad Girl at the Edinburgh Fringe 2018
Pic by Adrian Buckmaster


BREATHY burlesque tunes and a backstory to die for suggest that Sabrina Chap’s cabaret show could well be one of the standout hits of the Free Festival in 2018.

The provocatively titled How To Be A Bad Girl is less an attempt to shock and more a tongue-in-cheek description of how a clean-cut, classical piano teacher and wannabe choir teacher ended up singing in burlesque clubs instead.

Chap, the Illinois-born daughter of Bulgarian immigrants, insists she was a “good girl” while growing up. However, then she released Oompa!, her first album of ragtime-infused cabaret tunes.

The album proved a hit on the burlesque scene with performers stripping to her tunes across the world. As her promotional material puts it she was soon “singing filthy songs alongside world-famous burlesque acts, circus luminaries and cabaret starlets. Here, she learned that she had to be just as entertaining as a bouncing nipple tassel.”

Against that sort of competition she not only sharpened her songwriting and singing skills (she is described as the “love-child of Tom Waits and a whisky-soaked angel”) but also developed a razor sharp wit and sadistic humour.

With original tunes, story-telling, and a finely-honed stage presence, How to Be a Bad Girl chronicles Sabrina’s delightful descent from classical pianist into the world of smut, booze and  burlesque in her own words.