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April 23, 2014

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In ‘Peepshow’ rehearsals, Coco is delivering an order of shake

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Coco works with Jerry Mitchell and Paula Caselton during “Peepshow” rehearsals in New York.

LDW2012: Ice-T and Coco at LAX

Ice-T and Coco host and party at LAX in the Luxor on Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012. Launch slideshow »
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Coco works with Jerry Mitchell and Paula Castleton during "Peepshow" rehearsals in New York.

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Ice-T and Coco host and party at LAX in the Luxor on Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012.

During a quickie visit to New York last week, I had the opportunity to meet Nicole “Coco” Austin, of “Ice Loves Coco” notoriety and the soon-to-be Bo Peep character in “Peepshow” at Planet Hollywood.

The initial vibe, or, if you will, first impression from Coco is that she is a remarkably sweet and unassuming person. I didn’t know what to expect, honestly, but she was very warm and forthcoming during a rehearsal at Ripley-Grier Studios in Manhattan, not too far a walk from the Broadway theaters showcasing such musicals as “Phantom of the Opera,” “Golden Boy” and “Rock of Ages,” the latter at Helen Hayes Theater with a version bound for Palazzo next month.

Coco was working with choreographer and director Jerry Mitchell, choreographer Nick Kenkel and former “Peepshow” dance captain and swing performer Paula Caselton. If you want to be trained to perform something onstage, there is no more qualified group from whom to learn.

Impressively curvaceous, Coco also moves really well, having attended dance school from when she was a little girl through age 15. This is a handy skill, as a new scene is being added to “Peepshow” to showcase Coco’s dance training. Being dropped is the spider-web scene, added to the show for outgoing Bo Peep Holly Madison as the first scene in which she appeared topless (in the show).

The new number that Coco, Mitchell, Kenkel and Caselton have been rehearsing is the same broad-ranging scene that was fronted by current Bo Peep (temporarily, as Coco preps for the show) Angel Porrino in April’s “Broadway Bares” benefit show at Planet Hollywood.

“I was wondering if I would be able to do everything I used to do because, as a little girl, you are doing the flips and the turns and the leaps, and you are very flexible, right?” Coco said during a break in rehearsals Friday morning. “But it is like riding a bike. You always remember. I bounced right back in -- the first steps that they gave me, I went back into dance mode.”

Mitchell was happily surprised that Coco dropped into the splits during her first rehearsal (something that is far more astonishing to, say, a columnist than a professional dancer, but still …) and was interested in making a change to the show beyond just a shakeup to the cast. Coco was fine with that.

“(The producers) told me right away they wanted to add a scene because they knew my dance experience,” she said. “They had said, ‘If you accept this, we want to build it around you.” … They want Bo Peep to dance and do new numbers and make it fresh. As soon as they told me that, I was like, ‘Yes! I love that!’

An “Ice Loves Coco” crew has been filming Coco and the dance masters during rehearsals in New York and is focusing on her work in Las Vegas beginning next week. The run-up to her opening night in “Peepshow” will cap the current season of the E! Network series in December. She debuts Dec. 3, and more from this bubbly interview with the onetime Henderson resident (true) will be posted over the next few days.

Be on alert for such terms as “booty,” “boobs” and “pierced nipples.”

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWiththeDish.

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