Open: 04/17/13- Close: 05/04/13
Showgirls! The Musical!|
Reviewed for TheaterOnline.com By: Ashley Griffin
If I had to give a simple, one sentence review of “Showgirls The Musical!” for someone who wants to cut to the chase and simply know if it’s fun or not I would say: Yes – this show contains all the elements you would expect from a parody of this worst/best movie ever: all the brilliant one liners, exaggerated versions of your favorite scenes, and even all the gratuitous nudity from the film. You’ll laugh a lot, and have a fun time.
The more complete review is a bit more complicated.
I may be the best/worst person to review this particular musical. I myself am the creator of “Twilight: The Unauthorized Musical Parody” which performed at New World Stages. If anyone knows about parody musicals – it’s me.
The truth is, “Showgirls” is the most perfect film to do a parody musical of. And that’s just it. Just as Shakespeare is so brilliant that you could simply send someone onstage to read the play directly from the script and still feel you had a worthwhile evening at the theater, so you could put “Showgirls” onstage in any capacity and still feel you saw a worthwhile parody. The movie is a parody of itself – it kind of does the work for you.
For anyone who doesn’t know, “Showgirls” was a 1995 film with a screenplay that sold for $2 million dollars – the most expensive screenplay ever at the time, and went on to win 13 Razzie awards and single handedly destroy the career of nearly everyone involved in the film – most notably Elizabeth Berkley (Jessie from “Saved By The Bell.) “Showgirls” tells the story of Nomie Malone (Berkley) who comes to Las Vegas to be a dancer. After becoming a stripper, then promiscuous chorus girl, and finally pushing the star of her show down the stairs – she herself becomes the star dancer of “Goddess” at the Stardust hotel. Throw in some rape, cocaine, and some of the best one liners ever: (“Man, everybody got AIDS and shit”, “Where are you from?” “DIFFERENT PLACES!”) And you’ve got just some of the ingredients of this epic disaster.
The trick with a good parody musical is to find a balance between simply recreating moments from the source material in comic ways, and actually commenting on the material. The first is great if you’re doing something on a smaller scale a la an SNL sketch, but to give strength and viability to a parody working as a show in it’s own right, there has to be strong commentary on the source material. To me, one of the best exemplars of this in the case of “Showgirls” is the brilliant video review by Lindsay Ellis (AKA The Nostalgia Chick) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxD77sC9Kuk) Of course, Ms. Ellis is directly reviewing the film where as “Showgirls: The Musical!” is, well, a musical, but I bring it up because the musical, for me, was most effective when it was commenting on the source material – using the show to make a point, as opposed to just over doing well known moments. It’s the difference between (albeit very talented) friends making fun of a film in their living room, and providing an artistic interpretation. For example, one of the moments in the show I found most effective was the finale – where each character took the stage and, in song, summed up what happened to them – both as a character in the movie, and as the actor who played the role in the film – implying that, just as the characters used “whorish” actions to get ahead, maybe the actors, metaphorically, were doing the same thing.
The stand out element of the show – which showed shimmering glimpses of how awesome this show has the potential to be was the performance of April Kidwell as Nomie. Ms. Kidwell struck a brilliant balance in her performance between really acting the role, and commenting on it. She had Elizabeth Berkley down pat – but was still really playing the actions of the scenes she was in. She was never asking for laughs, and it made us laugh all the harder. Ms. Kidwell is also a truly fearless performer, and is the epitome of commitment.
The show would have benefited from having more of a band to fill out the two guitars that provided the sole accompaniment. The costume design by Marcus Desion was fantastic! I don’t know how he managed it, but he recreated many of the iconic “Showgirls” costumes brilliantly. The set design was quite effective – I especially liked the use of three rotating panels at the back of the stage, and the ever-present stripper pole. The Kraine Theater is actually a brilliant venue for this show – and was a very smart choice on the part of the producers.
The book and the songs could benefit from some structural work. Many of the numbers are one-joke songs that, though funny, don’t necessarily warrant an entire musical number. There are also some obvious moments from “Showgirls” that weren’t utilized, and felt like missed opportunities to me. I don’t mean scenes or characters that couldn’t be included due to length constraints (believe me, I understand that not everything in the source material can make it into an adaptation) but, for example, one of the most iconic lines “Man, everybody got AIDS and shit” was brushed off quickly, and got lost in the midst of everything else going on (as opposed to the “DIFFERENT PLACES!” moment which was brilliantly framed, and continued to come up as the show went on.)
“Showgirls: The Musical!” is a really fun evening at the theater. But with some more work I think it could be a truly awesome evening at the theater, and go on to be very successful.
Kraine Theater : 85 East 4th Street