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Sisterhood of the Unraveling Dance

Women in Their Underwear! Incest Jokes! Gratuitous Flat-Footedness!

The ladies of Skin! tarting up.

By Bret McCabe | Posted 6/14/2006


At the Mobtown Theater through June 24

The scrappy Mobtown Players troupe concludes its eighth season with an inspired bit of bonkers panache. For whatever reasons, it had to postpone its slated production of Carlos Godoni’s Servant of Two Masters, so it fills the open space by banking on one of the more foolproof assumptions: The only thing better than young women wearing nothing but silky, satiny, and frilly underwear singing and dancing is young women wearing nothing but silky, satiny, and frilly underwear singing and dancing while being funny.

Skin! is a tongue-in-cheek, ragtag riff on the bygone burlesque show, complete with a sleazy host, Dr. Spots Beauregarde (Bobby Libby, rocking the old suit, wife beater, suspenders, and squirrelly moustache), telling pun-drunk, tired jokes and glad-hand selling his good, old-fashioned titty show. Problem is, though his seven gals have ample tit, they’re less endowed in song and dance. But what they may lack in voices, Beyoncé moves, and overall polish they make up for in sassy verve, second bottle of bourbon lewdness, and constant wit. Skin! is basically good, clean vulgarity.

Mobtown’s intimate performance space is transformed into a seedy red-light cabaret, with red and black drapery strung along the sidewalls and sheer folds of fabric lining the stage. A flashing-lights-lined skin sign sits at a drunkard’s tilt above the stage, from which a saucy featherish boa hangs like a pair of old panty hose. Dr. Spots—so named because he likes to touch all the girls in their “doctor spots”—sits in the crowd and marks time between numbers with his randy spiel. During solo numbers the rest of the women stroll about in the back of the seating area or grab a seat for themselves, taking in the show like temporarily unemployed Deadwood harlots with nothing better to do.

The show itself is but a daft hit parade of flagrantly sexed-up musicals numbers (Chicago’s “Cell Block Tango” and “And All That Jazz,” Oklahoma!’s “I Cain’t Say No,” Steel Pier’s “Everybody’s Girl,” Cabaret’s “Don’t Tell Mama”) and choreographed song and dance stripteases (Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” Alannah Myles’ “Black Velvet”). For the record: the women never actually disrobe, you pervs, but their suggestive verbal innuendo and body language makes up for any lack of starkers titillation. And luckily, though none of these women should quit their stage careers to seek lucrative spoils in pole dancing, they’re all gamely suited for Skin!’s cackling naughtiness.

Some of these numbers take already overplayed double entendres and push them into the absurd. Kim Burns gives Rug Burnz, Dr. Spot’s daughter, a pixieish glee with a performance that straddles knowingness and naiveté, twisting the lusty desperation of “Everybody’s Girl” into a freewheeling deadpan. Danielle Robinette plays Dr. Spot’s current wife, Punky Bruiser, like Delta Burke slowly coming unhinged throughout the show. She stomps onto the stage, bottle in hand, and by the time of her post-intermission solo turn, her smudged mascara heavily circles her eyes and she just murders her number in a morass of shrill notes and choked threats. And Sophia Antzoulatos deserves some kind of ribbon for her Chesty LaRue, who comes off like a Russ Meyer vixen channeling Lucille Ball while trying out for the Rockettes. Her bent-kneed high kicks and clumsy movement around the stage, as if her high heels were swimming flippers, are priceless, bested only by the klieg-light smile and winking chagrin she wears through it all as if she were Debbie Reynolds not missing a beat.

The production is far from perfect. All the recorded music mixes are quite rough—admitting such one of the show’s running gags—and the stationary, primarily overhead stage lighting means the women sometimes have that completely shaded eye-socket thing going on, which unfortunately makes them look a little too Marlon Brando in The Godfather. But the entire cast is in on the joke and folds imperfections into the production’s overall pith, making Skin! feel like a cross between being at a slumber party that is only about one more bottle of champers away from a great time and sitting in on drill-team camp. Juts remember to tip the talent freely.

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