From its poster of a leggy blonde teasing onlookers with a glimpse of toned torso and comely cleavage, to its lewd lyrics and ludicrous plotline, it’s clear that Bob and Tobly McSmith, the writers, directors and guitar and bass behind “Showgirls! The Musical!” have done their homework with this stripper-pole licking good stage parody of the 1995 film of the same name, minus the musical.
In the tradition of such new girl, ready to take on the town, classics as “All About Eve”, “Valley of the Dolls” and Poison’s “Fallen Angel” video, “Showgirls!” follows the beautiful drifter from “different places” Nomi as she goes from stripper to showgirl to “Whorrior” in Las Vegas. Along the way the show asks such probing questions as what will Nomi sacrifice on her rise to fame, who will she sleep with along the way and will she ever like brown rice and vegetables? The answers to said questions must be seen, by broad minded adults only, to be disbelieved and are best taken with a grain of salt and a double shot of tequila.
Never having seen the movie “Showgirls” I wasn’t sure what to expect from the musical, but a YouTube search brought me up to speed pretty quickly. And let there be not a smudgy eye shadow of a doubt, the campy dialogue, bitchy attitudes, melodramatic deliveries and buffet of bedazzled boobs that made the film a box office flop but a counter culture sensation are firmly in place and twice as tongue in cheek here. Furthermore, never mind DVD or 3-D, this blitzkrieg of bare-breasted back stabbing and otherwise bad behavior is live, right in front of you and for only $20 too. Now that’s what I call cost conscious carnal consuming.
Totally awesome April Kidwell stars as the all too ambitious Nomi alongside notable Rori Nogee as Cristal Conners, the reigning queen of the Las Vegas strip show scene. Both are perfectly cast and even more over-the-top than Elizabeth Berkley and Gina Gershon were in the movie. Furthermore, April is such a dead ringer for Elizabeth Berkley that she’s previously portrayed Berkley’s character Jessie in the “Saved By The Bell” parody “Bayside! The UnMusical!”. Also worthy of mention is John E. Elliot in multiples roles as seedy Vegas club guys including Cristal’s boyfriend Zack, originally played by Kyle MacLachlan. But for the musical, his name isn’t Zack; it’s…Kyle MacLachlan, as if you couldn’t tell who he was supposed to be by his shaggy wig, which is almost as amusing as MacLachlan’s floppy side-part from the film.
It’s hard not to like a play with “Singing. Dancing. Tits.” as its advertised attractions. Yowza, even an accomplished one out of three isn’t bad and after all, who doesn’t like dancing? However, a brief intermission would have been appreciated to refresh oneself and beverage and would have fit in perfectly during the brief blackout during which the stage is set for a parody of the movie’s infamous swimming pool production number, the one aspect of the musical that didn’t quite live up to usually reliable, low expectations.
“Showgirls!” opened April 17th in the cramped confines of the Kraine Theater in the East Village for what was supposed to be a limited engagement. But after a run of sold out shows and thumbs (and other appendages) up reviews Nomi, Crystal, Kyle and company have moved on up to the glitzy and gay nightclub XL on West 42nd Street where they bring the house and their tops down Wednesdays and Saturdays. Now adding further authenticity is Rena Riffel, who played Penny in the “Showgirls” movie, who reprises her role onstage, including the heartbreaking ballad “No One Wants To F*ck a Penny.” Clearly, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin and Andy Lloyd Weber didn’t write all the good show tunes.
So, if you’re a fan of the original “Showgirls” or just want to check out live naked breasts under the guise of art “Showgirls! The Musical!” fits the bill and then some. See it before rising rents or the mayor’s no-fun squad, catches up with one of the last topless and delightfully tasteless good times in town.