Sometimes you go to the theater and you look at your friend during intermission and you say, “This is happening in real life.”
New York City, where all dreams are possible and all artistic visions have a chance, is the birthplace for the next great musical parody, and that parody is Showgirls! The Musical!
Perhaps some of you are unaware of the cultural gem that is Showgirls (The Movie). In 1995 there was a tremendous amount of buzz and controversy over the NC-17 rating for the movie starring Elizabeth Berkeley from Saved By the Bell fame. I felt really awesome that I managed to sneak my 16 year old self into the theater to see it. That rating is due to the language, near-constant topless dancing and wild, rough pool sex. The movie is extremely terrible, with ridiculous overacting, a terrible script and is almost a parody of itself.
The fact that there is a musical parody of a parody makes the entire experience a bit meta.
Bob and Tobly McSmith wrote and produced Bayside! The Un-Musical! (The Saved By the Bell musical, which I enjoyed) a couple of years ago and applied that comic genius and brought along the cast member who played Jessie Spano (made famous by Showgirls’ Elizabeth Berkeley), April Kidwell. I expected this musical to be much of the same but was surprised to like it even better!
The entire production is made up of professional actors and is extremely well-performed. Though some of the choreography is intentionally cheesy, it’s actually quite good. Something as big as recreating a thirty person Las Vegas strip production in a tiny off-broadway theater with a cast of seven is difficult to do, but they managed to cut to the essence of the Goddess show (the production the film is based around) with a volcano tossed over a stripper pole, strategically spandexed gold lame’ and the show’s main attribute, entirely topless dancing.
Yes, much of the show is performed topless. I don’t think it’s redundant to say as a lesbian I enjoy boobs. And as a feminist I don’t want to be like, you should only go see the show for the tits, but they’re really good and in context and I think feminism is sometimes about boobs at the intersection of consent and context.
The comic timing and one-liners are genius. I thought The Gay (a parody character of the stage manager/choreographer of the Goddess show), played by Philip McLeod, was a stand-out character and actually more meaty than I remembered it being from the original. He is the character who touts brown rice and vegetables for the dancers in the big show and famously tells Elizabeth Berkeley to “THRUST! THRUST!” in a tight shot of his face at her pelvis.
Marcus Desion had the task of playing both Molly (the BFF of the main character) and James (an erstwhile love interest/dance coach for the main character). This switch was made with a wig and bad 90s women’s fashions.
The key to Showgirls realness is the extreme overacting of Nomi, the lead character. She basically has a huge temper tantrum at the end of each scene and storms out, which is so unsettling it is comical. April Kidwell was incredible and I actually hated her character far less in the musical than in the movie.
Some of the song highlights for me were the hit “Don’t Lick the Pole” during the scene at the strip club Nomi works at until she is discovered. Not only is the song really funny (and good advice) but it’s accompanied by the athletic pole dance moves by April.
Even if you didn’t like the movie Showgirls (or haven’t seen it), you’ll still really enjoy the musical. I mean, pole dancing, topless actresses (one of whom is a tall and curvy, they didn’t just cast skinny girls), and funny songs. I think it’s better than a night at Scores, and you’re supporting up and coming very talented actors and musical writers/directors/producers. I honestly think Showgirls! The Musical! should become a fixture in the erotic nightlife of New York City.
Check out the cast page for some hilarious gifs of the characters in the show.
You can get tickets (the show runs through May 4th) at the Showgirls! The Musical! website! Only twenty bucks, it’s a bargain for such great entertainment, and you can bring booze down from the KGB Bar upstairs.