The Skivvies. People Magazine called them the “Most Playful Performers” in their June 2014 “Most Talked About Bodies” issue. Lauren Molina and Nick Cearley – two ridiculously beautiful, highly talented performers/mash-up artists/comedians – have created a huge following in New York and around the country with their highly eclectic fusion of pop/rock and musical theatre songs. And yes, they perform in their undies. Here’s just one great example of their amazing work.
I recently sat down with Lauren and Nick as they were preparing for their first Skivvies concert of the New Year. The following is a partial transcript of the interview.
How did you two meet?
Lauren: We met in 2003, when we were both cast in a show called Just So Stories. It’s an adaptation of the story by Rudyard Kipling about how the leopard got its spots and the elephant gets its trunk (I was the leopard, Nick was the elephant). It was a production run by Theatreworks USA, a children’s theatre production where you drive across the country, setting up in cafetoriums far and wide. We bonded quickly – we had a similar sense of humor and musical tastes.
What was the genesis of The Skivvies?
Lauren: Nick and I were hanging out one day and we wanted to put a cover up on YouTube. We had been making music together for years, ever since we met each other.
Nick: We went down to get egg sandwiches. We always get egg sandwiches at the deli downstairs from her apartment if it’s late morning/early afternoon. This song came on that, at the time, was very popular but I hated it.
Lauren: It was “We Found Love” by Rihanna. It’s very electronic and doesn’t even sound like it has real chords. So, we went upstairs and made it a ballad in 6/8 with guitar and ukulele. When we went to record it, I was walking around with a bra on because all my shirts were wrinkled, and Nick said…
Nick: Why don’t you just wear that?
Lauren: And I said, “Well, we are kind of stripping down the music. We could just extend the metaphor and make a whole stripped down series for YouTube and never comment on the fact that we’re not wearing clothes.”
How do you create your smart pop/rock/musical theatre mash-ups?
Lauren: Every process is different.
Nick: A lot of times we’ll hear a song and think, “Oh that sounds like this song.” For example, the melody of “Bang, Bang” sounds exactly like “Jitterbug (Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go).” It inspires us to put those two together and think where our brains go from there lyrically.
Lauren: Often times we start with the lyrics of the songs. Some pop songs have the most inane lyrics.
Nick: You say inane. I say the worst! So many of them make me think, “Really?? Millions of dollars for that lyric?”
Lauren: “That’s your rhyme? Really?” So, we try to expose the worst lyrics from pop songs. Sometimes we create a mash-up based on a theme, like our “Feelin’ Groovy in the Heart” medley, where we put songs together that have something to do with being groovy.
Nick: And those medleys keep growing. We’ll hear a new Justin Timberlake song and throw that in. They keep evolving so we don’t get stuck doing the same thing every time.
Lauren: Essentially, we build a mash-up or medley on a theme, a chord progression or a particular story we want to tell, like the Three Little Pigs and how they stand up to the Big Bad Wolf (using the songs “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf,” “Roar,” “Brave” and “Stronger,” all of which have the same chords).
You both have performed a lot of contemporary musical theatre work. How is that reflected in your collaboration as The Skivvies?
Nick: I think the energy that we individually have as people is the work we gravitate toward. We like to build things from the ground up and I think that reflects in the kinds of theatre work we do too. Even if it’s an old show, we find ways to put a new spin on it.
What do you have coming up with The Skivvies?
Lauren: SO. MUCH! This month we’re flying out to Los Angeles to shoot a pilot as the house band for a new television game show.
Nick: We’ve already shot it once. We’re doing a reshoot for a different network.
Lauren: So, that’s very exciting. You might see us on TV this year, performing in our underwear…
Nick: …providing the comic relief for the game show. We’ll also be performing at the Red Barn Theatre for a week at the end of the month. An then in February we’ll be at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia.
Lauren: We’re currently in talks to perform in Maryland, DC, LA… We’re definitely going to be doing more shows in LA this year. We’ve been talking about that for a while. And we want to get to Cincinnati and Detroit because those are our homes. Plus, we always balance our theatrical careers, which is a challenge, but when The Skivvies are having success we want to ride that wave.
Nick: It’s nice when they can go hand in hand, so when you get a show the theatre says, “We want a Skivvies.” That’s always fun to do.
To watch a video of the full interview, subscribe to our website and gain access to other great interviews with John Bucchino, Mary Testa and more. For more information on The Skivvies and their upcoming performances, please visit their website.
Please subscribe to our blog. Enter your email address on the top left side of the page and click “Follow” and sign up for our email list.
Visit www.contemporarymusicaltheatre.com for more information on over 180 contemporary musical theatre writers and 550+ songs, all searchable by voice and song type.