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Upbeat and Fearless "Showgirls" Musical Star Rises from Moments in a Dark Place

Scenes from "Showgirls."
Scenes from "Showgirls."
Hey Mr. Jason Photography

“Showgirls: The Musical” might be ending in a few weeks, but not if April Kidwell has anything to say about it.

April Kidwell all smiles in and out of character.
the web

The beautiful and determined star of the musical parody has now become one of the show’s producers. And, instead of just closing February 18 at the Theater 80 space, Kidwell has been looking for a new and permanent home for the wildly successful show.

“Showgirls” is on its third theatre in about as many years. The producers may not have known how well received it would be with critics and the public alike and perhaps didn’t have long term plans for the musical’s home.

But from the tiny Krane Theatre to the more opulent and hip XL Club, “Showgirls” has gone on and Kidwell has carried the show as Nomi Malone from the beginning.

Kidwell, who is an uncanny ringer for the movie’s star Elizabeth Berkley, is a woman full of life, humor, strength and talent. With perfect timing, Kidwell comes on stage and wins you over with her sense of humor, excellent singing voice and breasts. Yes, “Showgirls” is about a Las Vegas pole dancer who wants to make it center stage in a big speculator production. Like the movie, T&A are prominent in the show and Kidwell takes on the part with gusto, even as she slides and licks her way down the pole.

“I used to be bulimic,” she says, “but I am no longer self-conscious about my body and have grown to have a love and appreciation of it” so she says it doesn’t make her nervous to be often topless in the show. “I’ve been flashing my boobs to my gay friends for years,” she laughs.

Kidwell reminds you of a young Jenny McCarthy. She’s super sexy and talented for sure. But she’s also not afraid to be goofy and have fun. Sure Kidwell wants “Showgirls” to continue, but her ultimate job is not to be a Broadway star – she’d much rather be a regular on “Saturday Night Live” as she loves to do sketch comedy.

But until that happens, Kidwell has devoted the last few years to “Showgirls” and concurrently “Bayside: The Musical,” a spoof of the TV series “Saved by the Bell,” which also had Berkley.

Fortunately, “Showgirls” and “Bayside” play on different nights. But for awhile, they decided to make it a Elizabeth Berkley double feature and would do “Bayside” at 8pm and “Showgirls” at 10:30pm, giving Berkley and the few other carryover actors 30 minutes between shows.

There was a time, she remembers, that she was doing two dress rehearsals a day in a new theatre for “Showgirls” in the afternoon and then that same night she’d have to go on in both shows. “This was so exciting and crazy at the same time,” says Kidwell, saying she was able to get the energy to do both from the audience’s applause and appreciation.

“Showgirls” is likely one of the most fun off-Broadway musicals ever to come to the theatre and it owes a lot to the entire ensemble and the laugh-out-loud song parodies which include “F**king Underwater,” “Whorrior” and “Don’t Lick That Pole.” But even with guest stars from the original movie making appearances, the true reason “Showgirls” is a must see is for Kidwell herself.

In talking with her, it’s not hard to feel uplifted by her positive energy. She seems to take everything in stride, including having to take a bite of a McDonald’s hamburger every night in the show even though she’s a vegan. She also devoted six weeks learning to pole dance. “Funny thing is,” she says, “the pole didn’t fit in my apartment.” So, they put the pole on her balcony and there she was, pole dancing outside for weeks in the winter.

Kidwell’s demeanor and personality is infectious. But she hasn’t always been so positive and optimistic. Kidwell once was in a dark place. Besides overcoming her eating disorder, Kidwell was raped a few years ago and has used performing and acting as a way to help her move on.

At the time, Kidwell discovered that no one really wanted to talk about rape and there were no guides entitled “What to Expect When You’ve Been Raped.” But putting the shame behind her, Kidwell has become more fearless than ever. “So you see, taking off my top in ‘Showgirls’ is nothing compared to what I’ve been through.”

After blogging about her ordeal at www.xojane.com and landing the role on “Showgirls,” Kidwell is positively moving onward and upward and will play Nomi Malone until people are tired of seeing it – or until “Saturday Night Live” calls.

Whether you want some of the last tickets at the Theater 80 stage or to be an investor in the show’s future, go to www.showgirlsthemusical.com.

To read Kidwell’s XO blog, go to http://www.xojane.com/it-happened-to-me/nomi-showgirls-the-musical-april...