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October 30, 2014

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Review:

Peepshow’: Topless revue has lots of form, scant function

Image

JOHN GANUN / publicity photo

Planet Hollywood’s “Peepshow,” hosted by Mel B of Spice Girls fame, puts a twist on classic fairy tales, though the topless show’s story line is secondary at best.

Peepshow

Peepshow opening publicity photo, featuring Mel B., in front, with singers. The production is at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. Launch slideshow »

If You Go

  • What: “Peepshow” topless revue
  • When: 8 p.m. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Friday; 7 and 9:30 p.m. Thursday and Saturday
  • Where: Peepshow Showroom at Planet Hollywood
  • Admission: $59-$149; planethollywood.com
  • Running time: About 90 minutes
  • Audience advisory: Boobies! Must be 18 or older

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At last, Las Vegas has a strip club you can take your wife to. Or your girlfriend. Or your “delivered to your room” date for the evening.

A frisky, flashy update on that Vegas staple, the topless burlesque show, “Peepshow” is a playful, diverting piece of fluff. Expensive-looking fluff, to be sure — cashmere, silk, leather, lace. The show is a 90-minute panty party, an outright orgy of pricey-looking do-you-dare?-wear — teddies, camisoles, shrugs, bras, thongs and shoes, shoes, shoes, which will send many patrons straight from the showroom into the Frederick’s of Hollywood boutique just steps outside the casino.

Sure, there are songs and dances, slick sets and bright lights, but that stuff’s all incidental. How much you’ll like “Peepshow” depends entirely on how much you like breasts.

By my count, there are at least 20 pairs for your peeping pleasure.

And the breasts on display, by the way, appear to be all-natural — not those big, hard, cantilevered fakies — each one capped for your safety with glittering top-of-the-line pasties.

The show lives up to the tease promised in the title by keeping them moving and flashing, and director/choreographer Jerry Mitchell smartly provides some eye candy for the women and gay men in the crowd, with a handful of buff singer-dancers who are kept mostly shirtless throughout.

It’s only fair.

The evening is energetically, even aggressively, hosted by ex-Spice Girl Mel B (you’ll remember her as Scary Spice), who looks and sounds sensational. Strutting the stage sporting a cropped bustier, seamed black fishnets and thigh-high boots, with a cascade of black curls, she looks like she popped straight out of Cher’s infamous “If I Could Turn Back Time” video. In fact, when the original inevitably wears out, Ms. B could easily step in at Caesars as Cher v9.0. She has an amused, commanding presence — she could easily hold an audience on her own — and when she’s not onstage you miss her.

The rest of the time the stage is filled with an array of prancing, pouting, hard-eyed, hard-bodied, multiethnic “Peeps,” each one attractive but kind of anonymous, like those assembly-line marshmallow chicks.

“Peepshow” has just as much of a story line as it needs, which is scanty, as in those late-night “Skinemax” soft-core flicks.

Little Bo Peep arrives in her nightie, lovelorn, manless and unfulfilled, at which point Mel B takes her under her wing and guides her through a string of naughty tweaks on fairy tales and Mother Goose rhymes. After encountering Goldie, Red Riding Hoodie and assorted dogs, pigs and wolves, Bo finally achieves enough female empowerment to have sex (aka “love”) with a Tarzan-muscled dude who pops up in her bathtub.

Happily ever after, etc.

Bo Peep is played by the show’s other top-billed star, a soap opera actress (“General Hospital”) and “Dancing With the Stars” winner named Kelly Monaco, who is paraded prettily from scene to scene, gradually shedding clothes before setting herself free. I was amused by imagining in Monaco a faint resemblance to Tina Fey, but otherwise she has so little to do that just about anyone could substitute for her.

Director Mitchell, a Broadway name who staged “Hairspray,” The Full Monty” and “Legally Blonde: The Musical,” dreams up lots of kinetic, creative ways for women to take it off — his flirty, dirty take on cheerleaders was particularly cute.

Stage designer David Rockwell provides a stage with three keyhole-shaped thrusts for the dancers to shimmy, slink and slide around on, and makes more inventive use of video screens than any show in town.

Scenic highlights include the appearance of a giant gilded pumpkin that revolves to reveal a red velvet case housing a stripper pole, and the apparently restless wife of Peter, the fabled pumpkin eater.

An aquarium filled with milk materializes and three near-naked beauties eagerly climb in, providing a peep by pressing their various parts against the glass.

Stripper poles are skillfully navigated, of course. And then there’s the blindfolded lady who straddles a saddle and schwings out over the audience.

There’s some kind of unwritten law that every Vegas show has to have aerialists, but Mitchell applies some new twists — kinks, really — to the now-standard Cirque-etry. At one point the Tarzan guy emerges from the bathtub to climb and dangle, dripping wet, from a stout rope, which of course serves as a duh-ble entendre.

The music, played by an all-female band suspended over the stage, is a noisy mishmash of forgettable originals and cover versions (Kelis, Christina Aguilera, Madonna) sung at full-blast “American Idol”-style overkill.

Ultimately, “Peepshow” does what it does very well, and it should do just fine for Planet Hollywood, though it’s no replacement for the recent loss of the beloved “Folies Bergere” (or even “An Evening at La Cage”).

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