Saturday Night at Billy's | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Saturday Night at Billy's 

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SATURDAY NIGHT AT BILLY'S, Bailiwick Repertory. A very lavender version of The Full Monty, Ed Amor's 1998 one-act features six male strippers in their dressing room during a single evening at Billy's Night Club, a kind of bargain-basement Chippendale's threatened by a prudish, closeted councilman.

Once you get past the fact that all six dancers are gay (What, no jobs at the Lucky Horseshoe?) and divided neatly into three couples, you can appreciate the unpretentious appeal of this buddy drama. Sure, various soap-opera crises are quickly resolved through easy confessions and multiple hugs. But what matters is the characters' unforced bonding, a familiarity that breeds camaraderie. Amor's dialogue is sometimes snappy, sometimes sentimental, and his types are familiar--the real warmth comes from David Zak's staging, which makes you believe these guys could go from friends to lovers and back again.

Jeffrey Williford's bitchy flirt and Johnny Pelto's sensible mate are tried-and-true partners who hope to adopt a child. Luke Stanhope is a bit stiff as a buff and beefy promiscuous bisexual who finally settles down to appreciate Paul Bianco's loving but ailing dancer. Finally, sweet-faced Michael Matthews is charming as a gangly newcomer who finds security in the arms of Aaron Christensen's experienced lover. (Note: in a departure from Bailiwick's usual style, the stripping stops short of nudity.) --Lawrence Bommer

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