Nudity is back with a vengeance in Hollywood, not that it ever left. Maybe it’s the recession, the cost of clothes, or our desperate need to be titillated. In recent months we have seen a revival of Equus, a nude review called Hangin’ Out, F*cking Men at the Celebration (a homosexual retelling of La Ronde), and now Naked Boys Singing.
Actually Naked Boys Singing is a revival by the author, Robert Schrock, ten years after it became an international hit. Schrock also penned Hangin’ Out, which is a very similar show except it features a couple of ladies. His bio reveals he was in The Fantastics Off Broadway for a number of years, and appeared nude in The Dirtiest Show in Town. He was also the Artistic Director of the Celebration Theatre for six years. (I don’t know if any of their shows contained nudity.) In any case one might say he is obsessed with nudity, but I suspect it is more a matter of selling seats. Nothing like a dangling member to get an audience's attention.
Naked Boys Singing started in Los Angeles, so this is a homecoming of sorts, though the cast is new. It consists of Eric B. Anthony, Jeffrey A. Johns, Jack Harding, Timothy Hearl, Marco Infante (also in Hangin’ Out), Tony Melson, Daniel Rivera, and Victor Tang. They are all relatively good singers but a few stand out for their talent. Johns is very funny as the naked maid, and is also a good dancer. He shows a keen sense of humor and self-mockery. Harding is amusing singing “A Perky Little Porn Star,” and Anthony displays his very developed dancing skills.
The songs are all rather good, with catchy melodies and witty lyrics. They are by thirteen different writers, and this revival has only one new song not heard on the CD: “The Entertainer,” danced by Anthony. I must say I actually found myself wishing that the actors were clothed, because their nudity distracted from the rather good music, this time under the capable music direction of Gerald Sternbach (who also did Hangin’ Out).
The question is, does the show hold up after all these years? For the most part yes. It has legs (pardon the pun), but we are more jaded now than when nudity first appeared on stage and sometimes it can be simply boring.
Naked Boys Singing is playing at the Macha Theatre in West Hollywood until November 22.