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Toni Kasper's "Stripped"

Babalu Theatre, 327 W. 44th St.
June 16-July 10, $45.
Tele-Charge: (212) 239-6200 or at www.strippedtheplay.com
Reviewed by Robert Hicks July 1.


Playwright Toni Kasper provides a fast-paced, fun-filled look at the seedy world of horny businessmen and cash-hungry strippers at a gentlemen's club in her comedy "Stripped."

Kasper and producer Lawrence Scott met two years ago and assembled their energetic company that first presented the show at the Pyramid Cub in the East Village before transferring to the theater district for its current run at the Babalu Theatre through July 10.

The story line is fairly simple. Frankie, a cocktail waitress, is tired of working for tips and longs to make her star shine as an actress in Hollywood. With the encouragement of a cast of ballsy, discontented strippers and the shifty, decadent club manager, Vinnie, she transforms herself into the club's new star stripper, Gabrielle. But she hopes to find love with a kind, hunky new patron, Paul, and she struggles to discover her sense of individuality.

Coco (Joiee Thorpe) is the alluring, forbidden fruit craved by Irish and Italian men. Amber (Lisa Harpster) is a tough street broad. Natasha (Leanne Barrineau) is the tall Russian immigrant who has traded in her search for a green card for her lust for money. Samantha (Vina Less) and Rachel (Paige Young) are less memorable in their roles as secondary strippers.

Kasper's men, mostly insensitive, horny businessmen, are less clearly defined. Billionaire Buddy (Jerry Mond) provides great visual gags in his role as an unfulfilled, divorced investment banker. Jack Macco (Robert Scorrano) is the insensitive, violent jerk who forces himself on the strippers and thrives on his own self-serving power. Hank (Brett Michael Dykes) is the caring Southern bank executive who doesn't understand his fellow businessmen in the North. Big Ed the Bouncer (Tom Day) raises his thick eyebrows to great humorous effect and shows a sensitive understanding of Frankie aka Gabrielle. But Perverted Charlie (Ken Perlstein) steals the show with his hilarious transformation from lustful businessman into male stripper.

Kasper attempts to delve into the private, individual lives of her female strippers in the dressing rooms scenes, but the production drags here and her insights lack depth.

The production's creative team uses '70s music to convey humor and energy.

All in all, Kasper's vision of a stripper's world lacks psychological insight, but it works marvelously as a funny, energetic, fun-filled night of comedy.[Hicks]

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