Review: Showgirls! The Musical!

PLOT: The rise and fall of a vapid dancer in glamorous/despicable Las Vegas. Now with songs!

REVIEW: If you’ve seen the immortal Paul Verhoeven film, you know the story: a none-too-bright floozy wanders into Las Vegas with dreams of fame and fortune, which she gets, along with a series of degrading incidents involving her taking off her clothes for the amusement of some hideously sleazy characters. She also picks up some life lessons, too, like how to pronounce “Versace” and the benefits of nipple-icing. Yes, writer Joe Eszterhas gave us an unflinching glimpse into the sordid world of performing in Vegas, creating a deliriously silly story that director Verhoeven transformed into one of the great modern day camp classics. (Whether or not it was intentionally tongue-in-cheek is debatable; I have always voted yes, as Verhoeven is a cheeky bastard through and through.)

Even though the film is still parody enough on its own, off-off-Broadway theater company MediumFace has decided it’s time to thoroughly skewer it with “Showgirls The Musical,” which of course lampoons the movie mercilessly, creating a series of suitably amusing tunes highlighting Eszterhas’ screenplay’s most ridiculous and infamous moments. “Showgirls! The Musical” runs from April 17-20, April 24-27, and May 1-4 at the Kraine Theater in Lower Manhattan.

Truth be told, the musical works best if you’re familiar with Verhoeven’s movie - which, for better or worse, I am (not proud) - as most of the jokes and visual gags directly reference it. That awesome sex-in-the-pool scene is recreated admirably (considering the small stage) and those in the audience who don’t know the film well might think the actors are being ridiculous with their over-the-top gyrations. Us SHOWGIRLS aficionados know better.

Additionally, much of the film’s lewder dialogue is unleashed with little-to-no alteration from the performers; lyricists Bob and Tobly McSmith don’t have to embellish Esztherhas’s already-moronic trashy lines. The funniest moments in “Showgirls! The Musical” come when the troupe simply lets Eszterhas’ idiocy speak for itself. The wonderful scene when Nomi and Crystal have a conversation about eating dogfood is quoted verbatim by April Kidwell and Rori Nogee, because really, how can you top it? Other “classic” sequences are brought to life with titles like “Let Me See Those Tits”, “Don’t Lick That Pole” and “Dancing Ain’t F*cking”. Subtlety is not in the cards here.

A reproduction of Showgirls wouldn’t be complete without gratuitous nudity, and “Showgirls The Musical” shoves boobs in your face from start to finish. Lead April Kidwell, who plays Nomi Malone with an appropriately crazed fervor, pretty boldly shows off her goods within the first five minutes and rarely covers up thereafter. The other three actresses, Rori Nogee (as the perpetually coke-snorting Crystal Connors), and Amanda Nicholas and Natalie Wagner as two showgirls, are forever in the nude as well, so spectators simply looking for cheap thrills won’t be disappointed. (If you’re wondering about Nomi’s closest confidante, Molly, she’s played by the decidedly male performer, Marcus Desion. The illusion is seamless.)

Is there a ton of value to be found “Showgirls! The Musical” outside of kitschy kicks and the ample nudity? Not really; you’re not likely to leave remembering many of the songs or lyrics (except for perhaps “Boat Show!”), but the aim by MediumFace doesn’t seem to be to create a classic piece of theater but to deliver a shameless good time. Not unlike Verhoeven and Eszterhas, they did.

Extra Tidbit: For ticket info on "Showgirls! The Musical", head over to its official site.
Source: JoBlo.com



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