The title, underlined by the first number, Gratuitous Nudity, tells almost all about Robert Shrock’s concept for the multi-author musical revue.
Not only will the seven performers give new meaning to the term “bare stage” as one of them promises early on, but they will also make fun of themselves for spending most of the show unclothed.
But Naked Boys Singing is more than a male burlesque show. While there are many funny segments, there are an equal number of moving moments, all presented with power and clarity by the well-chosen cast, as directed by Shaun Toohey and musical director Gordon Johnston.
Dale Waterman’s yearning comes through loud and clear in his beautiful rendition of Window to Window (a song reprised in Act II by Rick Telfer, as the man in the other window.)
Tony Bove’s mourning for his dead partner in Kris, Look What You’ve Missed, as he dresses for work, is particularly touching. Both the song and the act of being clothed to face the outside world bring a change of tone to the lighthearted nature of much of the rest of the show.
The contrast to Pascal Viens Perky Little Porn Star, Cameron Aitken’s Naked Maid or Douglas Connor’s Robert Mitchum is marked, while such numbers as Telfer’s Nothin’ But the Radio On, Maxim David’s The Entertainer and the ensemble’s Fight the Urge or Muscle Addiction overlay the lusty romp with a layer of pain.
The wittiest song in the show is The Bliss of a Bris — both the irony in the material and the execution are very funny.
As with any work that has so many writers, the quality of the material is variable. But the message that being naked is more than taking off one’s clothes in an emotional unbaring is clear.
The result is a show with balls that is a lot of fun but also sometimes surprises with moments of tenderness.
Tototoo’s Ottawa premiere of Naked Boys Singing continues at Live! On Elgin to June 25.
Asst. director: Kodi Cannon
Set: Sally McIntyre
Lighting: Barry Sims
Sound: Justin Adelpha
Costumes: Ashley Cannon