It’s ok to look, really, go ahead. In the opening number, Gratuitous Nudity, the boys encourage you to take in the sights. Not convinced? They’ll point and thrust and shimmy to make it clear - not for the shy and timid. These guys are more than comfortable in their birthday suits, and they want you to be comfortable with it as well.
Once you get past all the skin on display, you’ll find a show that is surprisingly entertaining. Most of the songs will have you laughing in your seats: celebrating the joy of a bris, the unease of a high school gym shower, and the many terms and definitions that describe what makes a man a man. A particularly entertaining number was Jack’s Song, an ode to “loving” yourself, which hilariously employees the use of some innocent props to make the point of the song crystal clear.
Occasionally, the songs do take a break from the humor. Window to Window ( featuring Daniel Rivera and Victor Tang) tells of a sweet flirtation between two men who have nightly “dates” watching each other through their windows. The moving Kris, Look What You’ve Missed ( performed by Tony Melson) has a young man talking to his deceased partner, telling him how he has grown and how he will be ok.
The eight boys all have great voices; each given a chance to show his talents – vocally and otherwise. My companion for the evening was a bit apprehensive about sitting through a show full of naked men. I told her to just think of it as a musical review without costumes. I was wrong, there were a few costumes. But that isn’t why you go to see a show called Naked Boys Singing now is it? Come for the skin, but there’s a lot more to these boys than meets the eye.
Jason outed me. Yes, I confess, I was very nervous about this show. You’re basic fear of the nude unknown I guess. However the show’s opening number is specifically designed to assuage just such apprehensions while introducing the prevailing theme of the evening: the male genitalia. What they think of it, what society thinks of it, what exactly is the big deal about show it off anyway?
The company of Naked Boys Singing ( Eric B. Anthony, Jack Harding, Timothy Hearl, Marco Infante, Jeffery A. Johns, Tony Melson, Daniel Rivera, Victor Tang) fling and wiggle their boy parts happily, shamelessly, in the collective effort to assure the audience that indeed, it is OK to look.
Jeffrey A. Johns does a spectacular job of setting the tone for the evening with his solo number The Naked Maid, an interpretive performance where he bounces and springs about the entire stage; his song detailing the skill of titillating while tidying. Eric B. Anthony’s The Entertainer is a respectful, classy nod to the great Bob Fosse, reminding the artists in the audience what we do for love. Finally, the second act opens with a full company recital of Member’s Only, a sort of " Bohemian Rhapsody a la Penis". These are just my highlights; once you go, I’m sure you will have your own.
The show could do with a few minor adjustments. Director Robert Schrock does a wonderful job with the comic numbers, but the staging stalls a bit with the dramatic pieces in the show. The production would serve itself well to rig the stage with some kind of microphone system so that none vocals are not lost amidst choreography. With all due respect to the fantastic job of piano accompaniment by musical director Gerald Sternbach, the sheer amplitude of the performances themselves begs for a bigger band. But alas, this show is essentially a cabaret (see upstage velveteen curtain), so I guess the strings section will only be heard in my head.
If I haven’t mentioned it by now, I’m nit-picking. Naked Boys Singing is jovially candid, and an incredibly fun show. Just let your hair, the boys will take their pants down, and a great time will be had by all.
Naked Boys Singing is back for a limited engagement beginning September 17th through November 22, 2009 at:
1107 Kinds Road
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(just north of Santa Monica Boulevard)
Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays @ 8pm
Sundays @ 7pm
Tickets are : $34.95
For more information call: (323) 960-4424
Photo Credit: Michael Lamont