Things you should know about Peepshow, the topless revue now playing at the CHI showroom inside Planet Hollywood:
- Despite the top-billing, advertising face time and press coverage given to Holly Madison, who replaced Kelly Monaco’s role in the show, the real star of Peepshow is Shoshana Bean, formerly of Broadway’s Wicked, currently occupying the lead singing/dancing role abandoned by former Spice Girl Mel B. Shoshana is funny, charming, spunky, cute and can sing the hell out of anything.
- Though the show’s title and sometimes-topless cast of dancing beauties would lead you to believe good ol’ fashioned boobies are the draw of the show (and, specifically, the artificial ones supported by Madison’s tiny frame), the surprising truth is that the singers steal the show. At least for me, they did. Led by Bean, a few non-stripping female singers, male lead Josh Strickland and the occasional topless rapping hottie belt out tunes with such chutzpah you’d swear you just hear a subway train rumble past.
- Aside from a few slow spots (notably the opening number featuring the show’s eponymous theme song), the 80-minute production buzzes by quickly with mercurial energy. It balances well the erotic, the humorous and the silly. A particularly creative number involves three nearly-nude women inside a giant glass vat filled with “milk”; another features a particularly buff dude performing slippery antics on a suspended cable above a bathtub.
- As with almost every other striptease-type show I’ve seen, an “audience participation” segment breaks up the bouncing bosoms of the show with some well-placed light comedy. I put that in quotes though because, like many “volunteer” situations, the audience participants are plants. I don’t have a problem with that practice, it’s entertaining, and I like comedy. Just sayin’.
- The biggest disappointment? Madison. I said it. Holly Madison is adorable. She is down-to-earth, unassuming and very considerate. The character she plays should be perfect: An innocent, shy girl looking for love. But Madison is completely uncomfortable on stage. Actually, you can tell she’s even a bit awkward in front of the camera, too, but that’s a discussion for another time. Madison distractingly plays with her hair, tugs at her robe and stumbles around for most of her limited appearances in the show. And when it’s time for her to come out of her shell, after being prodded by Bean’s character and seduced by buff bathtub guy, the excitement over her spotlight performance has nothing to do with her dancing or acting — it’s more like an elevated sigh of relief that FINALLY, HOLLY IS NAKED. But the odd thing is, despite her Barbie looks and perfectly crafted breasts, Madison is just not sexy. Especially not in comparison to the caramel beauty who rocked the hell out of “Brickhouse” or the cat-like redhead who practically made love to a car. No, Madison tries hard to shashay and work her fluffy, white boa, but especially put next to the professional entertainers surrounding her, she comes off looking as if she’s the lucky hottie drawn out of the crowd at random to join the cast on stage for one night.
- Given the last point, Peepshow still ain’t bad. It’s naughty enough to work well for a bachelor (or bachelorette) party, but polished enough for a guilt-free date night. And I didn’t fall asleep during the first 20 minutes, unlike a certain show starring Madison’s ex-boyfriend Criss Angel.