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The Skivvies Blend Burlesque and Cabaret

by Steve Desroches

In the musical Gypsy the soon to blossom as a burlesque star Gypsy Rose Lee gets sage advice from veterans of the stage when they perform the comedic showstopper “You Gotta Get a Gimmick.” Broadway actors Lauren Molina and Nick Cearley may never have appeared in the iconic musical on the Great White Way, but they nevertheless took that advice to heart. Almost 10 years ago the two best friends were preparing to record a stripped down version of Rihanna’s “We Found Love” on the bass and the ukulele to post on YouTube. Molina was walking around her New York apartment wearing only a bra and underwear when she asked Cearley what outfit she should put on for the video. He jokingly replied that since they were doing a stripped down version of the lush dance hit she should wear just what she had on, to which her boyfriend yelled from the kitchen that they should do it and call themselves The Skivvies. And so they did and the video went viral instantly. In the decade since, they’ve toured the country with their burlesque cabaret act as it turns out The Skivvies are a huge hit.

“It’s the oldest trick in the book: you just need a gimmick,” says Cearley. “We are very much in on it.”

With a touch of camp and comedy Molina and Cearley present a night of music and surprises as they literally strip down themselves and their arrangements when they take to the stage at the Post Office Cabaret. They’ve been performing in Provincetown each summer almost as long as The Skivvies has been around, much to the delight of both audiences and themselves, as the town “just gets us,” says Molina. Playful, but never raunchy, it’s a whimsical show for those with a sense of humor and an appreciation for really great music. Very quickly the fact they’re in their underwear goes largely unnoticed as the crowd laughs and sways. With impressive theater resumes, it’s this show that really propelled the two to new heights.

“I’ve had a really nice career,” says Molina. “But I am most recognizable for The Skivvies. It’s opened up opportunities to perform in cities I’ve never performed in before. Both from the live shows and videos we’ve gotten offers for roles in other shows. We’ve had guest stars who got gigs from performing with The Skivvies. Laura Benanti got booked on the TV show Nashville and Andrew Keenan-Bolger was booked on Looking. It’s crazy.”

The two met as young actors in 2003 when they were cast in Theatreworks USA’s national tour of Just So Stories, a children’s theater piece in which they both earned their Actors’ Equity cards. Driving around the country in a van the two became close friends and soon musical collaborators. They performed frequently in New York as a duo, with their clothes on, as well as in productions of All Shook Up and Little Shop of Horrors for Cearley and Rock of Ages and the national tour of the most recent revival of Sweeney Todd for Molina. And once again touring with The Skivvies led to the thrilling opportunity at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park for Cearley and Molina to work together on a revisioned revival of You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown in which the actors play the music rather than an orchestra.

The pandemic of course put a hold on their work, like it did for everyone. So the duo formed a bubble and began focusing on virtual performances and recording. And for two who perform in their underwear a lot there is one show that inevitably keeps bubbling up into their world: The Rocky Horror Show. Cearley and Molina first played Brad and Janet in 2013 at the Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope, Pennsylvania, a performance that is of course performed almost entirely in underclothes. Born on Halloween, it’s one of Cearley’s favorites and he and Molina have developed a special Skivvies Rocky Horror show they perform every October. But with stages dark, the two focused on recording the soundtrack during lockdown and have recently released it as an album. And they’ll perform a few tracks as an homage to the patron saint show of scantily clad performers.

“I’m just in love with the show,” says Cearley. “Being born on Halloween I’ve always had an affinity for the spooky and horror. And of course The Skivvies are perfect for it.”

“It was exactly what we needed during that terrible year,” says Molina. “It was such a great experience to be in the show with Nick. The music is so pop driven and fun. What I love about Rocky Horror is that it’s a show with such abandon, it so wild, carefree, silly. It embraces the outsider. It’s a perfect fit for us.”

So, too, is Provincetown. While a hit wherever they go, The Skivvies are a particular favorite in Provincetown for their playful sexiness, comedic timing, and bona fide musical chops. It’s the gig they look forward to most when going on tour. The natural beauty, the art colony, and the free spirit nature of the town make it a must for The Skivvies every summer. It’s a place they don’t take for granted as it’s been so supportive of their act and a place that recharges the creative batteries.

As they prepare for even more shows, as hopefully the country will get Covid under control, they’re working on new material and recordings. And it may come as a surprise, but also their wardrobe. They don’t just wear their everyday underwear, but of course treat them like any theatrical costume when it comes to cut, color, and design. And it all matters, as you definitely want to avoid any wardrobe malfunctions. For Molina there’s been the occasional “nip slip” and the one time when removing her shorts she half mooned the audience, but nothing that was a “big deal” she says, but adds, “ask about Nick’s ball.”

“Yeah, we did this show once in gold underwear and I didn’t have time to try them on first,” says Cearley. “My underwear was a bit lose and I did most of the show with one ball out. I didn’t even know until later when we were looking at shots from the show the photographer took and there it was, one ball hanging out. No one said a thing the whole show! I asked him to air brush it out.”

The Skivvies perform at the Post Office Cabaret, 303 Commercial St., Provincetown, Monday, August 2 and Tuesday, August 3 and Monday, August 9 and Tuesday, August 10 at 8:30 p.m. Tickets ($40) are available at the box office and online at For more information call 508.487.0087.

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Ginger Mountain

Ginger Mountain (MS Communications Media, BA Fine Arts/Teaching Certification K-12) has been part of the graphic design team at Provincetown Magazine since 2008. Ginger has worked as a creative director, individual contractor, and freelance designer with clients representing many areas —business software, consumer products, professional services, entertainment, and network hardware to name just a few — providing creative layout and development of a wide range of print media content. Her clients ranged from small local businesses to large corporations and Fortune 500 companies, from New Hampshire to Georgia

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