Q&A: Getting Down With The Skivvies

Broadway stars Lauren Molina and Nick Cearley return to Philly with a new stripped-down holiday show.

If you’ve never seen Lauren Molina and Nick Cearley, you don’t know what you’re in for. The Broadway stars, who met back in 2003, are better known as The Skivvies, and they’re the hottest cabaret act in New York. But they aren’t your typical singing duo: The pair literally perform their entire act in their underwear, and they do mashups of classic and pop songs with a series of guest stars who usually strip down as well. Nick (who is openly gay) and Lauren were in town back in February, and they’re returning with their new holiday show at the Kimmel’s SEI Studio. We sat down and chatted with the duo about how they started and what they love best about Philly.

G Philly: I know you guys were just in Philly a year ago, so it’s great to have you back so soon. What did you like about the city and performing at the Kimmel Center?

Lauren Molina: I just love the energy and the history of the city and the art and theater scene. But I absolutely love the food.

Nick Cearley: My favorite thing was figuring out where we were going to eat after the show!

LM: We went to that place with the guacamole…

GP: El Vez?

LM: Yes, El Vez! That place was delicious! We loved the Reading Market. We went there and got coffee and there’s so much to see. But so far as the Kimmel is concerned, the sound system in that space is fantastic. Their workers are on the top of their game and they made us feel so special. That’s the thing about Philly. It’s such a good community for the arts and they make everyone feel comfortable and taken care of.

NC: Their social media game is really good too. The other thing is that it’s really rare that a guy like [artistic director] Jay [Wahl] brought us back two times in one year. It’s really special for us. We did Valentines and now we’re doing Christmas. It’s like a holiday tradition now.

GP: So I’m guessing that your set is going to be a lot of Christmas songs since it’s so close to the holidays?

NC: It’s almost all holiday songs.

LM: We literally went to Mexico to do shows, and we just created a holiday show while we were down there. We did the show at Joe’s Pub and OUT Magazine named us the “Sexiest Cabaret Concert of the Season.” We basically tried to take holiday songs and mash them up with pop songs, so it’ll be “Frosty the Snowman” with “I Melt With You,” and “Little Drummer Boy” with “We Got the Beat.” Nick plays quirky, quirky instruments, and I play cello and guitar. It’s a really playful with a touch of naughty, especially with the really sexy Nick Adams. I mean, Nick Adams is a gay icon! I’m sad we only have four shows in Philly.

NC: I wonder if this holiday show would play well in February? Maybe we could do Christmas in July? For this show, when we put it together, we didn’t want to do “Jingle Bells.” Our tastes show how we gravitate towards each other. We have Jesus Christ come out and sing “Hold On.” I can’t stop laughing at it.

LM: Nick Adams will be performing as Santa’s elf and breaks out into “I”m a Slave for You.” In short, be prepared for irreverence.

GP: So does playing instruments make both of you better actors and singers?

LM: I grew up in a very musical family. I started piano when I was four and cello when I was eight or nine. I didn’t think that learning the cello would land me my first Broadway show, which was the John Doyle directed Sweeney Todd where the actors doubled as the musicians. It took me a while to get the knack of it. If I didn’t have those music lessons, I would have never had that skill set, nor thought of as the actress who played the cello.

NC: I had a nun come to my house for years to teach me how to play piano. I kinda taught myself how to play those other instruments based on my own piano lessons. Every Tuesday, Sister Marie came over!

LM: When Nick and I started playing together, we felt like standard cabarets were…

NC: Boring!

LM: We tried to be as original as possible. We’re kind of quirky, weird people who have eclectic tastes.

GP: You guys started this whole Skivvies thing on a YouTube channel. Did you have any idea that it would turn into the success that it is today?

LM: Not in a million years! No way! I had no idea it would lead to live shows and that it would be such a critical success.

NC: I remember a specific conversation we had right after we posted our first video. I said, “If we put this up there and it’s a bad idea, then we’ll just take it down.” But it wasn’t and we didn’t stop.

LM: We were hanging out one day and going to do a video and I was just wearing my bra trying to decide what to wear, and Nick said, “Why don’t you just wear that?” And then we became the Skivvies. The thing that is crazy is that all you need is a gimmick in this world for people to pay attention to you. We’re talented musicians and we wouldn’t have come to where we’re at if I didn’t have Nick and myself coming up with these arrangements. But people wouldn’t know who we are if we didn’t take off our clothes.

NC: It’s funny because both of us have theater careers but we’re recognized for being the Skivvies. Whenever we go into auditions, people are always like, “We didn’t recognize you with your clothes on,” and that’s funny but true. We were in People last year, and I went to the store and bought 12 copies of it. The lady behind the counter was like, “Why are you buying so many?” I told her I was in it, and she laughed and didn’t believe me. I had my glasses on and in the picture I had my hair slicked back. She didn’t believe me!

GP: You get all of these great performers to join you on stage. Who haven’t you performed with that you’d love to work with?

NC: Honestly, I’m thrilled that we got Jesus because he’s been really hard to get a hold of.

LM: I mean, you have to pay him with prayer and we just don’t have time in our schedule for that. But seriously, we’d love to branch out to comedians and TV people. We’d love Kristen Wiig or Paul Rudd or Neil Patrick Harris.

NC: It would be really smart of Jimmy Fallon to join us. I know he has a big talk show but what he does with those classroom instrument segments we’ve been doing for thirteen years now. That’s what we have in the Skivvies closet. He’s taken it to the mainstream. We should join forces. We’ve always thought about Ellen because she has that underwear line. She has that really irreverent humor. I don’t think she sings, but I don’t care what the hell she does.

LM: She could do a dramatic monologue for all I care!

You can catch The Skivvies at the Kimmel from December 17 through the 19. For tickets and more information, click here.