Tuesday, June 23, 2009 | 9:01 a.m.
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Platinum blonde beauty Holly Madison went topless the entire closing dance number in her Strip showgirl debut last night in Peepshow at Planet Hollywood. The audience shrieked and stomped their cheers and applause with a standing ovation.
The audience never knew that twice on her first night, Holly had to perform split-second improvised changes because of a stage lift that failed mechanically. Playboy Playmate Bunny friends turned up for her debut, and everybody, including the cast and the dancers, gave her rave reviews.
“Apart from the two mechanical mishaps, it was a great opening,” producer Scott Zeiger of BASE Entertainment told me as the curtain closed. “We lost her leap into the bathtub because they had to haul it onstage without being filled with water instead of it rising up from underneath the stage properly filled. We lost her sudden final entrance from under the stage for the same reason. You never know when these things happen, so you have to improvise instantly to ensure the show continues without missing a beat, and Holly was a true professional.”
Holly told me in her only exclusive interview of the night: “With the lights, the music, the dancing and the energy going well and having to immediately improvise because of the technical glitch, I didn’t even have time to think about going topless. Off came the costume, off came the bra, and I just started dancing. It was almost as if I didn’t know I was nearly totally naked!”
Planet Hollywood President Tom McCartney wound up onstage unexpectedly and accidentally and was nearly recruited into the bedroom handcuff scene. Since it was the first night of the changeover between Mel B and Kelly Monaco and now Holly and co-star Shoshana Bean, her understudy didn’t recognize the chief executive!
Shoshana, a veteran Broadway singer-actress-dancer, was unable to attend the first night because of a long-standing prior jazz concert contract she headlined at The Ballroom in New York City. She flies out here this morning with packed suitcases for her 90-day stint and starts onstage tonight. Shoshana had sent break a leg text messages to Holly from Manhattan.
Shoshana’s understudy filled in and went into the audience to pick three men as contestants to win Holly’s hand in a dating match-up game. Tom was pulled up with two others, and Holly had to nix him at the last moment to save him. The victim who was selected was then stripped down to his boxer shorts, tied to a bed, and Holly then enthusiastically threw herself into the action and painted him in pink!
As one visiting Strip headliner who roared along with the audience at that scene told me: “It’s such a hilarious moment, it begs for somebody to make a joke about Holly’s real-life dating situation: (Hugh) Hefner, Criss Angel and who’s next!”
Before the show began, the new opening video that Holly filmed a week ago played as the introduction, but I’m sad to report that her new dog, Napoleon, wound up on the cutting room floor! The pet that General Hospital actress Kelly Monaco was featured with was edited back in the video.
During the show, Holly is blindfolded for one of her transformation numbers, and when she was led off stage to walk through the audience, she surprised one lucky man up front in the cabaret section with an unexpected “generous nuzzle!”
Several of the show’s dancers told me: “We love having Holly in the cast. She is great, full of energy and so sweet to work with. She’s worked her butt off, and it’s a win-win. Everybody has fallen in love with her personality, her hard work and enthusiasm. She’s really enjoying being in Peepshow, and it shows. The audience knows it every time she’s onstage. She positively glows. It’s not easy having to do what she’s done and step into those shoes, but she made it work and is still having fun. It’s a great opportunity to star on the Strip, and she’s pulled it off. We are all so genuinely happy for her!”
Holly’s arrival is already proving good business for the box office. Last night, the three-tiered theater was more than 90 percent filled. “It was the best Monday night ticket sales since the show began almost four months ago,” one of the theater’s executives told me. “She’s bringing in the audiences beautifully. You expect Monday and Tuesday to be quieter than the weekend nights, but this just exploded with Holly. She’s working her butt off to promote the show, and it’s really paying off.”
Moments after the curtain came down, Holly, in an asset-revealing red dress, ran to meet her Playboy Playmate pals who’d turned up for her opening night with flowers and gifts. Her The Girls Next Door co-stars Kendra Wilkinson and Bridget Marquardt sent good luck greetings by text.
I joined Holly for the walk from the theater to the Strip House for her first-night champagne and wet pussy shots -- yes, folks, that is a bonafide drink. She was obviously thrilled at how the opening night went and was smiling radiantly with the thumbs-up verdict from her friends, the cast and fans who followed her into the bar for photos and autographs!
We settled into a corner couch, and she said: “I feel like I won a beauty pageant with all these flowers. I had a blast from start to finish. I’m happy I didn’t mess up once, and I can’t wait to do it again tomorrow night. I wasn’t expecting to be nervous, but as it got closer to curtain up, I started getting the jitters -- but the cast is so fun and supportive and nice, they put me at ease.
“This was the absolute dream come true. I had such a great time, and so many friends came to see me. I always hoped a night like this would eventually happen for me, but I never thought it would be as good as this. Way better than I ever imagined, and I love the show so much. Just great, and I’m having a blast.”
I just had to ask her about going topless in the show. She told me: “I go topless for the show’s final dance number, but I have so many things going on, I don’t even think about it. It’s a lot of fun. I’m thinking about the lights, the music and the steps, so I’m not at all concerned about being in my birthday suit. Then I heard the audience all cheering, and I remembered what it was all about, and I just laughed.
“One of the lifts under the stage failed to work at the last minute, so we had to improvise, but the cast and crew were so great, we worked around the problem it caused. The audience wouldn’t even notice if they hadn’t seen the show before. I had to think on my feet, and that’s where a lot of rehearsals pay off.
“The bathtub couldn’t come up from under the stage, so we pushed it on from the side without it being filled up with water, so we couldn’t jump in, splash around and get completely soaked. It will be working from now on, though, and some people, Robin, tell me it’s their favorite scene in the show! I love it! It’s very sexy, hot and fun.
“I love burlesque, beautiful sets and costumes. The cast is so talented, and the topless part is done so tastefully. There’s something in it for everybody: men and women, husbands and wives, lovers and friends. Everything about the show is just great. It was all such a rush, and I can’t wait to do it again.”
Holly and Shoshana appear together tonight for the first time. They perform again Wednesday, which is normally a dark night for the production. Thursday night is the media’s gala night with a cast party. After Friday night’s show, Holly hosts another celebration party at Prive in Planet Hollywood. Then Saturday morning, she flies to Los Angeles for Kendra’s wedding to Philadelphia Eagles star Hank Baskett at The Playboy Mansion. Holly revealed that Hugh would be watching as Kendra’s brother gives her away.
“I’ve had all my fittings for my bridesmaid’s dress,” Holly said, “but I won’t see it finished until Saturday morning. It’s going to be a great wedding. I’m sorry I couldn’t make her bachelorette party because of the final rehearsals, but we’ll make up for that on Saturday.” She’ll fly back to Las Vegas on Sunday morning, and the cast will perform two make-up shows then.
She summed up: “My new life has begun, and it’s beautiful. I’d always dreamed of being a Las Vegas showgirl. I never thought it would be as good as this, so come join our party!”
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground. Read more of Robin's stories at VegasDeLuxe.com.
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