The burlesque show has long been a staple of Sin City entertainment — but chances are, audiences haven’t seen anything like “Peepshow,” which marries the tease of the topless show with the storyline and big production value of a Broadway musical.
Created by Tony Award-winning director/choreographer Jerry Mitchell, “Peepshow” is the story of Bo, a timid office worker who is guided by the Peep Diva through a fantastical journey that empowers her to ultimately discover her own sexuality.
Along the way, Bo meets many storybook characters, starting with Red Riding Hood, who is played by Tara Palsha. Of course, this role does not involve a sweet little girl bringing treats to her grandmother.
“All of the fairy tale characters are a little naughty, but nice,” says Palsha, a singer, dancer, and model, who has also performed in “Jubilee!” “Fantasy” and “Bite” in Las Vegas.
In the show, Palsha first appears in a sexy red gown with a long train (think Jessica Rabbit). Her character oozes confidence and never leaves the red carpet, which moves with her all over the stage.
“What’s so amazing about this for me is that [Mitchell] has allowed me to put my own interpretation into the role,” she says.
The “riding hood” in this sequence belongs to a red 1966 Cobra, into which Palsha’s character ultimately disappears. Her role has some demanding maneuvers, including being placed on top of the car in 3 1/2-inch heels and sliding down the hood — moves Palsha had to learn on the fly when she joined the cast as a replacement five days before the show’s grand opening in April.
“I didn’t have a moment to think about it, honestly,” she says. “It’s like with anything else; you kind of settle into it after awhile.”
Palsha describes the topless element of the show as being tastefully done and even empowering. “There’s always the scary factor of it when you start to do it,” she says. “But I think that women who are able to display themselves in an appropriate way — in a classy way like that — it’s somewhat empowering to know how to feel comfortable in your skin.”
This sentiment echoes “Peepshow’s” central theme.
“It’s about taking Bo on this adventure and teaching her to be very comfortable in her body and to display sexuality in an appropriate way,” Palsha says. “It just shows people that you can be sexy without being raunchy.”
Palsha describes the overall look and feel of “Peepshow” as contemporary, from the music — featuring a mix of original songs as well as favorites from artists such as Madonna, Christina Aguilera and Aerosmith — to the costumes, which shy away from the rhinestones and feathers that are signature to shows such as “Jubilee!”
“The costumes are very sexy, but they’re not too revealing,” Palsha says. “They’ve done really nice cuts of bottoms on us that are more contemporary style rather than an old-school G-string.”
“Peepshow” features a cast of approximately 30, with various celebrities taking on the roles of Bo and the Peep Diva for stretches at a time. While these performer changes don’t directly affect Palsha’s scenes, she notes that each new actress gives the show a different feel.
“What’s great about it is that people can keep coming back and they get a whole new show again,” she says.
The daughter of an opera singer, Palsha made her stage debut at age 4 and began studying ballet at an early age. She earned her bachelor’s degree in dance performance, and though she was trained to be a contemporary dancer, the often meager living did not appeal. Her tall figure made her a perfect fit for the Las Vegas dancing scene, where she has been performing for the past seven years.
“It’s been great,” Palsha says. “I own a home, and it’s given me the chance to have stability as well as being able to perform every day.”
In the daytime when she’s not on stage, Palsha trains and competes in Latin ballroom dancing. She also maintains a daily Pilates regimen.
“Sometimes it’s just not enough to dance every night in the show, although it does give you your cardio,” she says. “Everybody does something extra outside of the show, just to keep their bodies in shape.”
For Palsha, “Peepshow” is a unique experience for audiences because it blends the best of burlesque and Broadway.
“People have an expectation when they come to see it, and they’re pleasantly surprised. Honestly, they’re blown away.”