Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Tuesday, 8 May 2012
Naked Boys Singing! Malthouse, May 5, 2012 ***
Created by Robert Schrock
Theatre, Malthouse, until May 12, 2012
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Glenn Ferguson, Nicholas Gentile, Joshua Harrison, Chris McGovern, Mitchell Roberts, Elijah Rohner, Tye Shepherd
THERE'S NO POINT DISCUSSING THE COSTUMES in Naked Boys Singing because these seven boys really
are singing naked, apart from the occasional bowler hat, towel or jocks.
The show, created and
originally directed by Robert Schrock in LA, recently closed a 12-year season Off-Broadway that shamelessly targeted a gay male audience and, in an inventive marketing
ploy, hens’ nights.
production hits all the same buttons with 13 toe-tapping, show tunes about
being a gay man, accepting the male body with all its quirks, and celebrating
However, despite its
shallow attempt at social commentary, the show is really a perv-fest for the
gay men in the audience, some of whom spent the entire show pointing out which of
the lean, youthful boy’s bodies they preferred.
The songs may not be
ground-breaking but they are entertaining, ranging from the peppy, opening
number, Gratuitous Nudity, in which the boys wear only a bowler hat, to the
cheeky Naked Maid and Perky Little Porn Star (’from way out west in Melton’).
Nick Gentile’s rendition
of the melodic ballad, Window to Window, is affecting, and his voice has good
control and tone.
Tye Shepherd is pert and
amusing performing The Entertainer in fishnets and bustier reminiscent of Liza
Jonathan Worsley’s direction and Adam Williams’ choreography keep
the songs animated but lack originality and do not challenge the performers.
The main problem is that
the show delivers only part of its promise because, although the boys are
naked, most of their singing voices are limited which leaves the songs without
Such a show could use
music and satire to challenge social issues about nudity and homosexuality but
this show is pure entertainment. That demands powerful
singing and exceptional dancing, which this production does not deliver.
It might be more
satisfying to a broader, musical theatre audience to see a cast of naked men of different shape and sizes with extraordinary
singing voices performing a range of songs that are not necessarily about being
gay or about nudity, and see whether the voices are so good that we stop noticing
By Kate Herbert
Director / Producer: Jonathan Worsley
Choreographer: Adam Williams
Musical Director: Sheena Crouch
Piano: Michael Bourkas
Cast: Glenn Ferguson, Nicholas Gentile, Joshua Harrison,
Chris McGovern, Mitchell Roberts, Elijah Rohner, Tye Shepherd.
Contributing writers: Stephen Bates, Marie Cain,
Shelly Markham, Jim Morgan, David Pevsner, Rayme Sciaroni, Mark Savage, Ben
Schaechter, Robert Schrock, Mark Winkler and Bruce Vilanch.