Naked Boys Singing | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Naked Boys Singing 

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Naked Boys Singing, Bailiwick Repertory. This revue of 16 songs by 11 writers delivers on the promise of its title in the very first number: eight cast members display the full monty while singing about how they know the audience has come to see "not crudity but gratuitous nudity." And there's plenty of that (plus a little soft-shoe) to spice up the songs, most of which revolve around such stock situations as cruising the steam room, invading straight-guy poker night, and trying to keep everything under wraps in high school locker rooms. The occasional bowler hat, leather harness, or slinky dress adds an element of playfulness to the matter-of-fact business of baring it all. Seemingly the gay boys next door, the men are toned but with a couple of exceptions not buff, cute but not gorgeous, sweetly funny but not hilarious; their voices are nice but not sterling.

Directed by David Zak and based on the popular New York production, this show is at its charming, titillating best during the fast-paced, jaunty numbers: Dennis Murphy, playing a naked maid, sings that he's not a "spic-and-spank" kind of guy; baby-faced Michael Reilly happily shares that he's "a perky little porn star from Skokie, Illinois." Slower, sadder numbers, however, seem too bloated, too Andrew Lloyd Webber, to fit comfortably. Luckily there are only a couple of those. The others will likely show up at Sidetrack sing-alongs in years to come.

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