Naked Boys Singing

A review by Alan Smason

Tuesday October 09, 07
by Alan Smason,

I was a bit surprised to learn the original musical revue of "Naked Boys Singing" has been running for nine years straight (pardon the pun) in New York. On top of that, it is now being released as a major film submission to several gay film festivals.

The premise of the musical at the Marigny Theatre would seem to be about as thin as the towels that partially clothe the cast in the opening number "Gratuitous Nudity." Not surprisingly, it is deeper than merely viewing six males romping around in their birthday suits. At times one can almost forget that the singers are naked and concentrate on the lyrics and choreography of the show. Notice I said almost.

It is an ever-present and pervasive theme that someone or everyone on stage will be naked at some point by song's end. The songs can be somewhat irreverent like “The Naked Maid” and “Perky Porn Star” or tender and introspective like “Window to Window” and “Kris.” While most of the songs revolve about relationships in the gay community, there are a few notable exceptions such as "The Bliss of a Bris" and "Nothin' But the Radio On."

Producers Donnie Jay and Timm Holt of To Do Productions approached Jonne Dendinger to direct the musical several months back. Dendinger, who also served as musical director, kept things moving along and her musical pacing was nice. Also hired to perform at Le Petit’s performances of “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” Dendinger arranged for a second pianist to fill in when conflicts arose.

Baring it all onstage, the cast composed of Julius Dietze, Jason George, Philip Gordon, Marshall Harris, Travis Resor, Bryan Wagar and Gary Rosenblatt (who also was stage manager) was talented as well as brave. Singing and dancing their way into the audience’s heart, the cast’s performances could be described as standouts. Who knew that half a dozen nude men could be so funny? Because "Naked Boys Singing" is a true ensemble piece, it would be unfair to say that any one actor emerged more than others. I recall that hoary show business adage: “There are no such things as small parts, only small actors.” In "Naked Boys Singing" it was not obvious that these actors or their parts were small in any way.