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Naked Boys Singing at The Garden Theatre | Review

Naked Boys Singing - Photo credit NatLPho
Naked Boys Singing – Photo credit NatLPho

It’s not a production that can be sued for misrepresentation: it’s called Naked Boys Singing and that’s basically what it is. Seventy minutes of an all-male cast with song after song, presented in various states of undress. This isn’t The Full Monty, either: the audience is not kept waiting until the final number for a brief briefless moment. These boys come out, so to speak, right at the start, with nothing on.

The opening number, all guns blazing (as it were) had an unassuming late Friday night (late by 10:00pm curfew standards, at least) audience in Vauxhall, the south-of-the-river home to many a gay venue, more than sufficiently in the mood for more. Suffice to say, the show did not disappoint, and for all its silliness and playing to the gallery, there are also some meatier (sorry) moments that discuss, for instance, what it means to ‘come out’ and the associated anxieties that come along with such a milestone event in someone’s life, and the ongoing thoughts towards a significant other who passed away far too soon.

But (should that be ‘butt’?) with musical numbers like ‘Gratuitous Nudity’ and ‘Jack’s Song (I Beat My Meat)’ the primary purpose of the show, which has no discernible storyline, is to entertain. Life is difficult at the best of times, but with 2020 being the sort of year it has been, generous doses of hammy song and dance are more than welcome. That said, if it is pathos, plot and character development you’re after, it’s not to be found here.

So long as one is happy to accept that premise, there’s much fun to be had. It’s also worth pointing out that this is an outdoor theatre, albeit one with overhead shelter for both cast and audience, and while there are heaters dotted around the place, the actors were probably kept relatively warm more than anything thanks to some sprightly choreography. All that movement felt slightly dizzying from my front row vantage point, but there’s no doubting the energy of the performances. As for the audience, I kept my jacket on, as did everyone else around me.

Jensen Tudtud brings the house down early on in the proceedings with ‘Naked Maid’ and Daniel Noah does the same later on in ‘Perky Little Porn Star’. I thought there was a sliver of subtlety, for instance in ‘Window to Window’, in which Noah and Liam Asplen eye each other up through their respective bedroom windows before bedtime. But then I realised there’s nothing subtle at all about two guys who undress at night with their curtains fully undrawn.

Nick Brittain shows off some incredibly skilled dance moves in ‘The Entertainer’, and musical director Aaron Clingham glides through the score seemingly effortlessly. The show’s one overarching joke may wear thin for some long before the show finishes. Nonetheless, it’s great fun and I left the theatre with a smile on my face. It’s almost a pity nobody on the Tube home saw it as I was wearing a mask.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

This hilarious musical revue features 15 original songs, a bevy of gorgeous and talented men, and no clothes – a winning combination if ever there was one! From the sassy opening number “Gratuitous Nudity” to the screamingly funny “Bliss of a Bris,” audiences and critics the world over have hailed Naked Boys Singing! a sure-fire crowd-pleaser.

Originating at the Celebration Theatre in Los Angeles, this campy musical comedy opened Off-Broadway in 1999 and ran for over twelve years.

Shortly after the original Off-Broadway closed, the smash hit Provincetown adaption of Naked Boys Singing! transferred to the Off Broadway stage where it is still enjoying a healthy run today.

Written by: Stephen Bates, Marie Cain, Perry Hart, Shelly Markham, Jim Morgan, David Pevsner, Rayme Sciaroni, Mark Savage, Ben Schaechter, Robert Schrock, Trance Thompson, Bruce Vilanch and Mark Winkler.

Boy 1 – Liam Asplen
Boy 2 – Nick Brittain
Boy 3 – Daniel Ghezzi
Boy 4 – Kane Hoad
Boy 5 – Daniel Noah
Boy 6 – Jensen Tudtud

Director/choreographer: Carole Todd
Assistant director: William Spencer
Musical director: Aaron Clingham
Lighting: Richard Lambert
Produced by Peter Bull for LAMBCO Productions.
http://gardentheatre.co.uk/

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