Ali (Christina Aguilera) is a small-town girl with a big voice who escapes hardship and an uncertain future to follow her dreams to Los Angeles. After stumbling upon The Burlesque Lounge, a majestic but ailing theater that is home to an inspired musical revue, Ali lands a job as a cocktail waitress from Tess (Cher), the club’s proprietor and headliner. Burlesque’s outrageous costumes and bold choreography enrapture the young ingenue, who vows to perform there one day.
Soon enough, Ali builds a friendship with a featured dancer named Georgia (Julianne Hough), finds an enemy in a troubled, jealous performer named Nikki (Kristen Bell), and garners the affection of a bartender and fellow musician Jack (Cam Gigandet). With the help of a sharp-witted stage manager (Stanley Tucci) and gender-bending host named Alexis (Alan Cumming), Ali makes her way from the bar to the stage. Her spectacular voice restores The Burlesque Lounge to its former glory, though not before a charismatic entrepreneur Marcus Gerber (Eric Dane) arrives with an enticing proposal.