Las Vegas Sun

October 18, 2017

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A Vegas institution, updated

‘Peepshow’ builds on sexy tradition of shows like ‘Folies Bergere,’ which closes this weekend


publicity photo by TOM DONOGHUE

Kelly Monaco, left, and Mel B, aka Scary Spice, right, will be the first celebrity stars of “Peepshow,” created, directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell, center.

Click to enlarge photo

"The girls (in rehearsal) are spectacular dancers and you get to see their beautiful bodies doing incredible choreography," Mitchell says.


What: “Peepshow”

When: Previews begin Monday; 8 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays; 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Thursdays and Saturdays. Dark Wednesdays.

Where: Planet Hollywood

Tickets: $59 to $149 for previews, Monday to April 17; $65 to $165 after the official opening; 785-5000


Jerry Mitchell, director, choreographer, concept

Andrew Lippa, composer, musical supervisor, arranger

David Rockwell, scenic design

Gregg Barnes, costume design

Chris Lee, lighting design

Acme Sound Partners, sound design

Zachary Borovay, video design

Josh Marquette, hair design

BASE Entertainment, producer

Les Folies Bergere

A Folies Bergere performer poses for the camera during a 1977 performance at the Tropicana's Tiffany theater. Launch slideshow »

Sun Blogs

Beyond the Sun

When “Folies Bergere” takes its final bow Saturday at the Tropicana, it will create a void on the Las Vegas Strip.

Broadway director and choreographer Jerry Mitchell hopes to fill that void, at least partially, with “Peepshow,” which premieres Monday at Planet Hollywood.

“Folies” was a Las Vegas staple for almost 50 years and helped make the spectacular topless revue an icon of the Entertainment Capital. The lone remaining topless show dripping glamour and glitz is Donn Arden’s “Jubilee!” at Bally’s.

“Peepshow” follows that tradition — sort of.

“ ‘Jubilee’ is a great show,” Mitchell says. “But it’s time for this. There’s a little more of a contemporary feel to it, but we certainly pay homage to whence it came.”

Mitchell choreographed such musicals as “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” “Hairspray,” “The Full Monty,” “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” and was director of “Legally Blonde.” He won a Tony Award for the choreography of “La Cage Aux Folles.”

The native of Paw Paw, Mich., started on Broadway as a dancer. In the ’80s he danced in productions at corporate events in Las Vegas. He oversaw and choreographed the musical “EFX” at the MGM Grand in 2001.

“I always loved being in this town. I was a huge fan of Donn Arden’s production shows,” says Mitchell, who was here when Arden’s “Lido de Paris” was at the Stardust. “I was lucky enough to see some of them as well as some other production shows in the ’80s that were here. But I kind of feel that production shows have changed. Everything changes, the way we perceive sexuality changes.

“There couldn’t be a better time for a sexy tease in a production show to come back than now. One of things I think is going to be great is that the girls are spectacular dancers and you get to see their beautiful bodies doing incredible choreography, and it’s all live.”

“Peepshow” features a cast of 29 principals and dancers and has a band of female musicians on stage. The music includes Michael Buble’s “Feeling Good,” Connie Francis’ “Teddy,” Madonna’s “Hung Up” and original tunes by Andrew Lippa.

Leading the cast are Mel B, best known as Scary Spice of the Spice Girls, and Kelly Monaco, the “General Hospital” star who became a champion on “Dancing with the Stars.” They will perform as the leads for an extended period, and then two more celebrities will take over the roles.

Neither Mel B nor Monaco will be topless, but several dancers will be. Mel B plays Peep Diva, the mistress of ceremonies, and Monaco is Bo Peep, who falls asleep in a short movie that starts the show.

“She’s reading a book and when we zoom in on the book, we see she’s reading the story of Little Bo Peep,” Mitchell says. A string of more or less interconnected fairy-tale scenes follows.

“It really isn’t a musical because there isn’t really a written book and scenes that string the show together in that sense. It’s a story told through song and dance. It’s really modern day burlesque. We’ve taken song and dance and the art of striptease to tell a story.”

The evolution of “Peepshow” began when Mitchell was a dancer in “The Will Rogers Follies” on Broadway in 1991.

“I was practically naked, dancing in a costume which basically covered the front and nothing else,” he says. Someone suggested he use his dancing and the scant costume to raise money for the charity Broadway Cares. That turned into the first “Broadway Bares” production at a gay club in New York City. He and five other performers raised $8,000 in one night. The show has been performed annually and has raised more than $6 million.

The road to Las Vegas began nine years ago, when a secretary for BASE Entertainment partner Scott Geiger was in “Broadway Bares” and invited him to the show. “That started the ball rolling,” Mitchell says.

BASE is producing the Vegas show. Architect David Rockwell (“Phantom, the Las Vegas Spectacular”) designed the lavish set. Gregg Barnes, who won a Tony Award for “The Drowsy Chaperone,” is creating the costumes.

“We took the bones of what I created in New York and tailored it for the Vegas market,” Mitchell says. “We couldn’t do this show in New York City. This is a Las Vegas show, for sexy adult men and women who want to go out together and have an amazing time. We’re not trying to pound anything over anyone’s head.”

Mitchell says he doesn’t want to reveal too much about the show.

“I don’t mean to be coy, but isn’t that the fun of striptease — what you don’t see as opposed to what you do see?” he says. “It’s one of the things I think is desperately missing here in Las Vegas and something I’m a huge fan of — the right time to take it off.”

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