Review: Naked Boys Singing
The tagline of Ganymede Arts' Naked Boys Singing is: "You're here for the music, right?" If you've come to 1409 Playbill Cafe looking for novelty and (short-lived) shock value, you've come to the right place. If it's inspired music and compelling theater you've come for, look elsewhere.
The two strongest songs, interestingly, are those that address Jewish themes. Chaz Starkey takes the lead in "The Bliss of a Bris," as a baby about to be snipped. Starkey has the strongest voice in the cast, and–to the production's detriment–this is the only song in which he's able to fully display his talents. Jonathan Simmonds also shines in this number–he has a weak voice, but with his elfin appearance and expressive face, he's fun to watch. He makes the most of his slight frame here playing a young girl with a giant lollipop, and his wardrobe–a cropped pinafore and matching bow–serves to heighten the effect of his cock ring.
In "Perky Little Porn Star," James Finley plays an adult entertainer struggling with Jewish guilt at a Sex Addicts Anoynmous meeting. He sings the number with palpable relish and his voice sounds great. With lines like "Blow a shofar, not a boy, on Yom Kippur," the song's lyrics are also among the cleverest of the entire show.
Through no fault of the performers, the weakest numbers are the slow songs. "Kris, Look What You Missed" is an address to a dead lover, the singer assuring him that he's moved on. The gravity of this song is jarring considering the overall tone of the production and the fact that it comes on the heels of the humorously drawn Sex Addicts Anonymous sketch. "Window to Window" and its reprise recount the earnest back-and-forth between two neighbors who watch each other from their windows but are reluctant to make a move. Again, the inconsistency in tone is problematic, as are clunky lyrics like "We can start a lifetime of caring/Take a risk, be daring."
The musical revue's opening number is called "Gratuitous Nudity," which might be a better title for the show itself. The naked schtick only rarely enhances a song's artistic values (as in the locker room sketch "Fight the Urge"); usually it just feels superfluous.