If it’s Pride Month, it must be time for Steamworks: The Musical | Theater Review | Chicago Reader

If it’s Pride Month, it must be time for Steamworks: The Musical 

The Annoyance show may rely too much on stereotypes, but it's still a lot of fun.

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Elias Rios

Al from Nebraska (Ben Cumings) goes searching for love through the heavy steam of a Boystown bathhouse in this endearing Pride Month offering at the Annoyance, now in its third staging since 2012. The show, which is sponsored in part by the actual Steamworks, has plenty of cute songs and memorable prop action to its credit. Witness the instructional ballad on poor Jacuzzi hygiene in act one, featuring a gang of tiny turd puppets with mouths, flanked by singing gobs of sperm. Brittany Flynn shines in her star turn as sexually frustrated Carol, the Queen of Boystown. And Al's hairy-chested beloved, the Bradley Cooper to his Lady Gaga (the two are invoked a lot here, hilariously), is played with ineluctable goofy charm by Kyle Deininger. Plus, his character rejoices in his own name—and I cannot stress this enough—of "Stephen Stefan." Stephen. Freaking. Stefan. Oh, yeah.

From roughly ten minutes into the play until final bows, everybody onstage with the exception of Carol is pretty much naked to the waist, or else robed in pink muslin or cheap leopard print with the belt undone. No one can really sing, and at times the incessant doubling down on retrograde gay stereotypes loses its campy verve and gets to feeling uncomfortable. That being said, this fun, proud chant from the depths of Chicago's big gay heart, if it fails to do anything else, goes great with a beer and some tots. Parker Callahan directs.   v

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