Naked Boys Singing: Movie Review

by Jeff Walsh

Naked Boys Singing.

Whatever thought pops into your head when you think of that phrase, it's probably a good idea to pay close attention to it.

If the notion of a bunch of naked theater boys singing phallus-centric songs for 90 minutes makes you smile, then you'll probably want to give this movie a tumble. If it sounds like torture, it probably won't win you over.

I must confess, I did see the live stage show twice, once in Los Angeles and once in San Francisco. As soon as I heard there was a Naked Boys Singing movie, my fear was they were going to try and reinterpret it for the screen -- a ghastly, incomprehensible idea. Thankfully, the movie (which is playing major cities this fall and coming to DVD in December) is just a filmed version of the stage show in Los Angeles. But it does bring up an interesting issue.

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Honestly, it's a GLBT forum. So:


Spring Awakening is three for three!!! YAAAAY!!!! I've been jumping up and down and screaming this entire time (and when Idina and Taye came on... <333 ) Not the best idea, because I've got a chorus performance in two days, but still... OMGOMGOMGTONYS!!!! BROADWAY, YOU ARE THE LOVE OF MY LIFE!!!!!

Howie Michael Smith Interview

By Jeff Walsh

After seeing some Broadway shows over the holidays, one of the truly breakout performers I got to see was Howie Michael Smith in Avenue Q. In the dual role of Princeton and Rod, Smith is a flurry of activity. You can see his pure joy of being up onstage and bringing two distinct personalities and voices to his characters in the show.

Princeton is the character that moves to Avenue Q at the start of the show, wondering what he can do now with his B.A. in English. He started apartment hunting on Avenue A, but couldn't afford any of the rents until he got way out until Avenue Q. He falls in love with Kate Monster, and even has a sex scene during the show.

Rod is the older, closeted character that sits home and reads books about Broadway musicals. He seems to be fashioned after Bert, with a hidden crush on Nicky, his Ernie. (Not that Bert and Ernie are gay or anything!).

Douglas Carter Beane: Interview

By Jeff Walsh

With "The Little Dog Laughed," Douglas Carter Beane got his play about a closeted gay celebrity, the hustler he falls in love with, and the actor's domineering chatterbox of an agent on Broadway. The show explores the fascination we all have with the sexuality of celebrities, and the pains people will go through to make sure stars are seen as heterosexual by the majority of the ticket-buying public.

Beane is best known for writing, "Too Wong Foo, Thanks for everything, Julie Newmar," which had Wesley Snipes, Patrick Swayze, and John Leguizamo in drag back in the 90s. No matter how successful he is with "Little Dog Laughed" or "As Bees In Honey Drown," To Wong Foo will always serve as his calling card for many people. In a few short months, Beane's book for a Broadway restaging of the Olivia Newton John's camp classic "Xanadu" will also hit the stage.

Beane recently chatted with me about Little Dog's closing on Broadway, fatherhood, Xanadu, gay porn, actors' bad taste, Perez Hilton, and celebrity closets.

Robin De Jesus Interview

By Jeff Walsh

Like many people, I first saw Robin De Jesus when he played the lead role in the movie Camp, which continues to be one of my favorite gay movies. The movie features teens dealing with their emotions, crushes, and sexualities at a summer camp that puts on different plays and musicals the whole time. I felt that he was the heart of the movie, and beautifully captured the awkwardness of that age.

Since that time, I've kept tabs on Robin, seeing if he's in any shows whenever I'm planning to go to New York City and such. This past trip, when I saw the Rent theater, for a moment, I wondered if he was still in the company, but I already had tickets for other shows.

The day before I flew back west to San Francisco, Robin posted a bulletin on MySpace that previews for the new show he's in were starting the following day, so while I was landing in Oakland, he was performing in "In The Heights" at the first preview. The show opens tonight Off-Broadway (Break a leg tonight, Robin!) and sounds like a fun night out at the theater. I'll let you know in a few months.

Legally Blonde: Pre-Broadway Review

By Jeff Walsh

With an opening song entitled "Omigod You Guys," Legally Blonde: The Musical clearly establishes itself as the latest offering in the trend of popular movies being turned into Broadway musicals. Whether or not you think that's a good idea overall, the real question is whether it will be the next Hairspray or The Wedding Singer? The Producers or High Fidelity?

But, having just gone to the show's opening night in San Francisco, two months before it opens on Broadway (it plays at the Golden Gate Theatre through February 24, details here), the show was certainly a crowd-pleaser. As much as I love to go to the theater to watch an emotional journey, learn about myself, and watch characters make breakthroughs that speak to the universal truths that we all know, well... that kind of expectation would make this show lethally bland. Besides, who would expect anything like that from Legally Blonde?! Duh!

The source material itself was a breezy movie starring Reese Witherspoon that sold itself largely on the spirit of her character and the way Witherspoon sold it so convincingly.

Gideon Glick Interview

By Jeff Walsh

I've already reviewed "Spring Awakening" back when I was on the east coast for the holidays. The Broadway show has really stuck with me, both the music, the story, the visuals, everything... so, I was pleased to find out that Gideon Glick, 18, whose character Ernst is seduced by another boy in the show, is openly gay and willing to chat with Oasis.

We spoke recently about the show, his thoughts on being an openly gay actor, and how his desire to see Queer as Folk brought him out of the closet in the seventh grade.

But, of course, we start off with Spring Awakening...

What a great show you ended up in there...

Yeah, it's quite fun!

Were you in it from the whole Off-Broadway production and everything?

Yeah, I got in on the Off-Broadway production. There were workshops and all beforehand, but I started Off-Broadway.

Spring Awakening: CD Review

By Jeff Walsh

Spring Awakening: A New Broadway Musical features music by Duncan Sheik, with book and lyrics by Steven Sater.

The caveat is that I can only review this from the perspective of having heard it after seeing the show on Broadway. So, in my mind, many of the songs have choreography, lighting, and visuals, which augments my enjoyment of the CD.

Right up front, I will say that John Gallagher Jr. as Moritz was my favorite lead performer in the show. He also does the most rocking songs in the show, so I have heard his stuff most often while working out at the gym. But his tracks, such as "The Bitch of Living," "And Then There Were None," and "Don't Do Sadness" are some of my favorite up-tempo songs, along with "Totally Fucked," where the entire ensemble erupts to release their pent-up angst in a burst of dance and song.

Chorus Line: CD Review

By Jeff Walsh

Anyone who knows me realizes me objectively reviewing the New Cast Recording of A Chorus Line is silly. When it comes to this CD, they had me at "Again...," the first word spoken in the opening number.

This is one of my favorite shows of all time, if not my absolute favorite. This show was Broadway's version of reality TV back in the 70s. The stage is bare, a line runs parallel to the edge of the stage, as dancers tell their life stories in prose and song to try and find work. Seeing it onstage always inspires me. There is no artifice in Chorus Line, no chandelier falling in Act Two, no revolving stage, and no helicopter coming down from the rafters. Whatever happens onstage is there because of bodies, breath, heart, sweat, and yearning, and the result is always magic. The songs are their stories, and by the end many of them are our songs and stories on some level, too. It shows the true power of theater.

Umm... anyway, this is a CD review...

Company: Broadway Review

By Jeff Walsh

Going into "Company," I had a lot of questions running around my head. Chief among them was: How can I be a theater queen and only now be seeing my first Sondheim show? When I looked in the Playbill, I was surprised how many of the show's musical numbers sounded familiar. Even though I hadn't been to a proper Sondheim production before, I've been to enough piano bars, cabarets, and Elaine Stritch one-woman shows to ensure more than half of the songs were known quantities.

The other pre-curtain pondering was about director John Doyle's staging, whereby there would be no orchestra (repeating the formula he recently used for his restaging of Sweeney Todd). The actors all play instruments onstage to accompany themselves and others during the songs. When I mentioned how this would be a strange hurdle to absorb, to a friend who isn't that fond of musicals, he said, "Oh yeah, unlike them all breaking into song randomly..." Point taken.

Cherry Jones Interview

By Jeff Walsh

In Doubt, Cherry Jones delivers an amazingly nuanced role as a nun that is convinced a priest behaved improperly with a young boy, despite not actually seeing anything incriminating. She just feels in her bones that what happened was inappropriate and has no ability to think otherwise. The play uses this exchange to question how we know what we know. In an age of polarization, how do we see with such certainty and, if that is the case, what chance is there to move forward if neither side questions their beliefs.

Doubt is a small show asking big questions. With a cast of four, it has an agility and focus to it that a larger show wouldn't allow. While the potentially pedophilic priest is an easy target, the show is just using that example to raise other questions.

Spring Awakening: Broadway Review

By Jeff Walsh

Spring Awakening is the newest show on Broadway (at the time of this writing), fusing together the text of a controversial-for-its-time play with a rock score by singer/songwriter Duncan Sheik. Fusing the two elements together made for some great musical moments and some interesting dramatic moments, although they rarely overlapped. First, we are in a Latin class in a German school in 1891, then one of the kids reaches into his jacket, pulls out a microphone, and all of the angst from the previous scene fuels the song as the electric guitar and drums kick into high gear.

I liked both sides of the show, the classic play and the rock concert, although it rarely seemed to fuse into one experience. When it did, such as the close of act one, when the young couple make love on a miniature floating stage, as the singing cast sit around them, rocking them slowly, and singing "I Believe," it was inspired magic, the reason people go to the theater, a moment of pure exhilaration when every element of the production combined flawlessly to create something greater than each of its parts. The cast, the music, and the audience all went somewhere else together in that chorus, and came out the other side better for the journey.

Avenue Q: Broadway Review

By Jeff Walsh

I'll admit up front that I was hesitant seeing "Avenue Q," primarily because the people who talked it up got really excited when The Muppet Show was released on DVD. They reeked of bias. Not that I'm anti-puppet, necessarily. It was always an issue of "but there are all these other shows to see with, like, people in them." My fears ended up being misguided.

"Avenue Q" admittedly doesn't take itself seriously, but it's not self-referential or a send-up of a Broadway musical done with puppets, either. The show stands on its own. The songs are all fun, well-written, and memorable. The strangest thing to process was the puppeteers performing onstage with their puppets on one hand and wands to move the puppet's arms in the other. The natural inclination was to look at the puppeteers, despite them being clad in neutral tones and delivering their performances through their puppets. They often had the same expressions as their puppets, and were fully invested in the role so they were singing fully and passionately (it wasn't ventriloquism). But after a while, you'd realize that the scene, songs, and sightlines were all happening between the puppets and the human actors playing other roles onstage, so you eventually shifted your focus.

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