It’s called Get ‘Em Off, it’s on at ‘the UK’s only full-time professional LGBT theatre’. It includes musical numbers with titles such as ‘Gotta Get Your Dick Out’ and ‘Netflix and Chill’. It does what it says on the tin, and if aspects of it feel like they’ve been done before (The Full Monty, anyone?) it still provides an entertaining night out for its target audience. It’s not the first musical in the world to be a bit light on plot and heavy on song-and- dance, and it won’t be the last.
The writers of Get ‘Em Off, Jon Bradfield and Martin Hooper, are most famous amongst the Above The Stag Theatre regulars for writing the theatre’s in-house pantomimes, which, like this show, are never family-friendly – the 2016/17 panto is called ‘Beauty on the Piste’; the 2015-16 one was ‘Tinderella’. The fourth wall is repeatedly breached as though this were a seasonal show, but it adds to the atmosphere.
There’s something slightly Brechtian about this show, at least from my perspective. In short, the audience is emotionally detached from the show and its characters, therefore not becoming overly sympathetic towards them. In this show this – perhaps paradoxically – adds to the fun, celebratory nature that the show aims to put across. Ricky (Ashley Daniels), as well as Brian, must deal with some very difficult issues still pertinent to being a gay man in today’s world. While these are treated with appropriate consideration and understanding, the show never feels heavy or dark.
The sort of putdowns dispensed by Quinny (Dereck Walker) would neither be funny nor clever if the show had a more naturalistic feel to it, whatever the characters’ sexual orientation would happen to be. He (or, this being a drag character, she) does have to explain to an offended Brian (Stuart Harris), and thus any potentially offended parties in the audience, that it is part of his role as master of ceremonies to maintain an acerbic wit. Thus, some harsh words are spoken, but there is more of a tendency on the part of the audience to boo rather than gasp. The panto influence strikes again.
There were intermittent microphone issues at the performance I attended, which didn’t spoil things too much given the size of the theatre, though I did have to work a little harder than I would have liked to properly hear what was being sung on occasion. David Michael Hands evidently enjoys himself playing multiple roles, most of which are hammed up. No matter: the hammier the better – and ‘twink’ Mitch (Joe Goldie) really goes for it, as it were, taking command of the stage with flamboyancy. Carole Todd’s choreography is to be commended, the songs are upbeat more often than not, and the costumes are almost always a source of amusement (in a good way). One of those musicals that asserts that anything is possible, it may not be creatively risky, but it’s a dependable and solid production that will assure audiences who enjoy a feel-good musical a decent night out at the theatre. Hilarious and entertaining.
Review by Chris Omaweng
Emotions and more are laid bare in this outrageous new musical comedy about amateur gay strippers, by our resident pantomime writers Jon Bradfield and Martin Hooper (Tinderella – Cinders Slips It In, Treasure Island – The Curse of Pearl Necklace ) who have ditched the ‘it’s behind yous’ for an explosion of hot campery in the world premiere of Get ‘Em Off from 22 June.
Just got dumped and need some attention? Dreams of stardom gone awry? Desperate for cash? Or perhaps you just like getting your sack out in front of a room full of strangers?!
Whatever your beef, come on down to the Golden Canary where the South East’s third best amateur gay strip competition is about to start. Don’t be nervous – the heating’s on…
GET ‘EM OFF!
A MUSICAL COMEDY
Book by Jon Bradfield and Martin Hooper, songs by Jon Bradfield
Book by Jon Bradfield & Martin Hooper
Music and Lyrics by Jon Bradfield
Directed by Rob McWhir
Musical Direction by Iain Vince-Gatt
Choreographed by Carole Todd
Designed by David Shields
Produced by Peter Bull for Above The Stag Theatre
From 22 June – NOW EXTENDED TO 28 AUGUST