Out Front’s ‘Snowgirls’ is campy holiday escape, all about the Pole

Anna Holland's work in Out Front's "Snowgirls" matches the fully-committed, bonkers energy of "Showgirls" film star Elizabeth Berkley, according to director Paul Conroy.

Credit: Out Front Theatre Company

Credit: Out Front Theatre Company

Anna Holland's work in Out Front's "Snowgirls" matches the fully-committed, bonkers energy of "Showgirls" film star Elizabeth Berkley, according to director Paul Conroy.

This story was originally published by ArtsATL.

Out Front Theatre’s production of “SnowGirls: The Musical,” a holiday parody of the notorious 1995 erotic thriller film “Showgirls,” onstage from Dec. 7-17, required its director, cast and crew to do a surprising amount of research.

In addition to watching the film over and over to make sure the tale of aspiring reindeer stripper Snowmi Malone matches the tone of the source material, director Paul Conroy said in an interview that the designers studied some details of animal biology.

“The costume designer, Eric Griffis, and I had to look up how many nipples a reindeer has,” Conroy said with a laugh. “The reindeer will be anatomically correct.”

Out Front Theatre's Paul Conroy, director of "Snowgirls."

Credit: Courtesy of Out Front Theatre

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Credit: Courtesy of Out Front Theatre

The musical — originally created and produced in Chicago in 2019 by Hell in a Handbag Productions — lines up nicely with Out Front’s history of holiday counterprogramming, which in past years has included the Joan Crawford-centered “Christmas Dearest,” “The Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes” and “The Ethel Merman Disco Christmas Spectacular!”

“Overall, what we try to do with the holidays every year is something irreverent and different that is familiar to people,” Conroy said. “I never want to do the same show every year. I appreciate companies that do that, but that’s not our brand.”

Instead, Out Front schedules a show that’s campy and subversive.

“As a queer theater, just as queer individuals, we’re already not traditional,” he said. “Why do we have to fit into a holiday box of what we’re going to present? Our show warms the heart of the holidays but stays true to our mission at the same time.”

“SnowGirls: The Musical” will appeal equally to fans of the Paul Verhoeven-directed, Joe Eszterhas-scripted movie and new audiences just discovering this naked reindeer’s tale, Conroy said.

“There are two types of people,” he said. “There are people who know ‘Showgirls’ like the back of their hand, and they’re going to be saying lines with the cast. And there are people who don’t know ‘Showgirls’ at all, and they’ll come and enjoy a wacky Christmas story about a stripper reindeer who wants to make it big dancing at the North Pole.”

In this plot, reindeer Snowmi Malone, played by Anna Holland, hitchhikes to the North Pole determined to dance in “Snow Goddess” by any means necessary, even if she has to take down lead dancer Ice Crystal Connors (Bekah Medford) or seduce the sleazy Zip Merry (Tyshawn Gooden) to make her dreams come true.

Fans of the movie looking for key moments will find things a bit changed at Christmastime.

“There’s not a swimming pool scene — they have sex on a skating rink,” Conroy said. “I think the creators were very smart in determining what is the North Pole equivalent of what was in the movie.”

Conroy also pointed out that none of the characters in this version are human. It is populated with deer, elves and magical creatures.

“How do I want to phrase this?” he asked. “‘Snow Goddess’ is a topless show, as it is in the movie, but there are no humans in the North Pole. So there is no human nudity in this show.”

Holland’s work matches the fully-committed, bonkers energy of film star Elizabeth Berkley, according to Conroy.

“She does not get to leave the stage,” he said. “I was joking with her. I said, ‘This is your ‘King Lear.’ You’re onstage the whole time, going 100 miles an hour.’”

Audiences seeking something fun and different are encouraged to attend. There are even double performances on Fridays, at 8 and 10:30 p.m., for folks who want late-night entertainment.

“The holidays can be really hard, especially for people in the queer community,” Conroy said. “They only have their chosen family, or they can’t travel. There are different economic factors that affect us. That’s why I want Out Front to always program something that is a silly comedy, where you just escape.”

THEATER PREVIEW

“SnowGirls: The Musical”

Through Dec. 7-17. $30. Out Front Theatre, 999 Brady Ave. NW, Atlanta. 404-448-2755, outfronttheatre.com.

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Benjamin Carr, a member of the American Theatre Critics Association, is an arts journalist and critic who has contributed to ArtsATL since 2019. His plays have been produced at the Vineyard Theatre in Manhattan as part of the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Short Play Festival and at the Center for Puppetry Arts. His novel, Impacted, was published by The Story Plant in 2021.


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Credit: ArtsATL

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Credit: ArtsATL

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