Saturday, 17 October 2020

REVIEW: Naked Boys Singing at The Garden Theatre

You may or may not have heard of Naked Boys Singing, but regardless if you have or not I think you can get a sense of what this show is about! This musical revue originated Off-Broadway and was still running before the closure of theatres. This show has run in London before but it returned at the beginning of this year at the Kings Head Theatre, after a very short run due COVID and a couple of cast changes, the show makes its return to the Garden Theatre. 

After a successful launch with Fanny & Stella and Pippin, Naked Boys Singing is part of their ‘Eagle Late’ season. As I have said in previous reviews, this venue really are going above and beyond to ensure the safety of their customers and to create a safe but still enjoyable and beautiful evening. 

Knowing that the piece itself is over 20 years old and with the obvious nudity in the show, my initial thoughts were that it was going to fall into the boring cliché gay theatre that is more about selling tickets to see naked men than thinking about its duty to the LGBTQ+ community. Unfortunately, this is quite common in this sector however times are changing and with this adaptation of the piece, it's certainly a step in the right direction for a better representation of gay men in theatre. 
Don’t get me wrong, the piece itself is slightly dated. Its premiere was in 1999 so naturally there would be some parts that may not be relevant anymore, however, director and choreographer Carole Todd manages to bring it into 2020. With small changes to the book and lyrics to update it and a cast that represents today's gay male, the piece doesn't feel out of place in our current day. There is still a lot of room for the LGBTQ+ community to be truly represented properly in theatre but what the creative team has done with this show is a very good start. 

The moment the actors come on stage, they are naked. The opening number is done completely in the buff. It may start off slightly uncomfortable and awkward but once this is over you start to completely ignore the nudity and start to focus on what the actors are singing about. The fact they are naked becomes normal and not the underlying joke. 

Of course there are many comedic moments within the show where the nudity is the joke, like in “The Naked Maid”, but the comedy also comes from so many other places and there is also some very tender moments that balances the show really well. 

The cast is made up of 6 actors; Liam Asplen, Nick Brittain, Daniel Ghezzi, Kane Hoad, Daniel Noah and Jensen Tudtud. Overall, these guys make up a great ensemble and are a talented bunch. Some highlights include ‘Window to Window’ with Liam Asplen and Daniel Noah, a very tender moment and was very sweet to watch, Noahs ‘Perky Little Porn Star’ was also a highlight, a great comedy performer and this number allowed him to show off his comic timing. ‘Kris, Look what you’ve
missed’ sung by Daniel Ghezzi was also a fantastic moment, his voice is gorgeous and the performance was precise and heartwarming. A mention must go to Jensen Tudtud for his Naked Maid, being the first performer to have a solo in the show he was initially nervous but he instantly got the audience on his side and settled in very well. A great way to open the show. 

In our current times, it's important to laugh and be reminded that we can’t take everything in life so seriously. What is going on in the world is terrible and we must all do our bit too overcome it, but with this safe venue and this show we are able, for a moment, to forget about our troubles and allow ourselves to laugh, guilt-free. 

This production is not life-changing nor is it ground-breaking, but it's an enjoyable evening you’re guaranteed to have a laugh. It's Cheeky (in more ways than one), naughty, heartwarming and a perfect escape all wrapped up in one naked gift! 

Review by Mark Swale 

Rating: ★★★★ 

Price of Ticket: £18, plus booking fee

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