The main difference, at face value, between Boys in the Buff the Musical and this version, Boys in the Buff the Concert, is in the running time. Coming in at just under an hour, it’s Edinburgh Fringe friendly (not that I wish to assert ideas for further productions or anything), and ultimately, to coin a phrase, it does what it says on the tin – there’s an age restriction in place for a reason. I may as well deal with the elephant in the room first: the cast do indeed bare all, and it’s more daring than the stage version of The Full Monty, the West End version of which ended disappointingly poorly lit. The UK tour version, I am reliably informed, ended equally anti-climatically, with a whiteout followed by a blackout. Here, let’s just say that it would be a huge surprise if anyone at the opening night performance invoked the Trade Descriptions Act against this production.
This shorter and slicker version of what is, in the end, a celebration of personal identity, works very well at the King’s Head, which has developed a reputation for being a bastion of LGBT+ plays in recent years. The sound balance is really quite exceptional, particularly given the unamplified vocals singing over a recorded soundtrack. There are also pre-recorded background vocals, but these are to be found in the West End too – and if they enhance the production (and they do), then who cares?
There are some deeper messages to be taken away from the show in addition to the banter, though in the grand scheme of things there isn’t anything that one wouldn’t pick up from any number of other musicals. Don’t be shy, be yourself, rise above sniping criticism from those who are just jealous that they aren’t as talented and wonderful as you, all that jazz. Double meanings are to be found in almost anything said or sung – make what you will of “the proof of the pudding is in the eating”, and “she’s putting her money where her mouth is”, for instance.
Body shape continues to be a pertinent topic for various reasons, and is explored here in an encouraging and uplifting manner. Diana (Shani Cantor), effectively the show’s narrator, brings the house down with a powerhouse singing vocal in the eleven o’clock number, the stand-out performance in a show in which each character (as far as I can recall) gets their own solo at some point.
Mind you, the showstopping numbers came through one after the other with just the right amount of connecting spoken dialogue between songs, without sounding too contrived or at all preachy. There’s a bit of audience participation (don’t say I didn’t warn you), which, I hasten to add, doesn’t involve anyone doing anything they don’t want to do. The concert format inevitably meant an uncluttered set, so the scene transitions were extremely slick, and the whole thing flowed very well.
All things considered then, a brief but enjoyable encounter (ahem), and all the ‘boys’ seemed to be enjoying themselves on stage, which is always a pleasure to see. A gloriously delightful production.
Review by Chris Omaweng
’BOYS IN THE BUFF’ is a musical revue about body image, diets, the gym, selfies, Botox, nip ‘n’ tucks, photo shopping and what we endure trying to look good. It’s a show about everybody for everybody!
Diana Diamonte hosts the evening, inspiring her four ‘boys’ to explore the naked truth about their bodies and how they feel about them. With a cast who act, sing and dance, this show boasts a host of brand new musical comedy numbers – and a finale strip routine guaranteed to bring the house down.
Strictly over 18s only. This show contains full-frontal nudity.
Boys in the Buff: The Concert
28th November – 9th December 2017