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February 26, 2015

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Male nudity is show’s point, yes, but there’s more



If You Go

  • What: “Naked Boys Singing!”
  • When: 10 p.m. Thursday-Saturday through July 4
  • Where: Onyx Theatre, inside the Rack fetish shop in the Commercial Center plaza, 953 E. Sahara Ave.
  • Admission: $30; 732-7225,
  • Running time: About 90 minutes without intermission
  • Audience advisory: Full frontal and back-al male nudity, obviously

Sun Blogs

Beyond the Sun

What comes after the full monty?

That would be “Naked Boys Singing!,” a musical revue with seven men singing and dancing in the altogether.

Certainly there’s no shortage of bare men in Las Vegas, with at least four male dance revues on tap on the Strip. The difference is that “Naked Boys Singing!” is not a tease.

And its focus is not really entirely on what comedian Doug Benson calls “penuseses.”

Oh all right, yes it is. But only for about the duration of the first song, “Gratuitous Nudity,” which is a cheerful open invitation to ogle. “Tonight there’s an atmosphere where it’s all right to stare,” the seven-member cast sings. “Tonight you won’t wonder what’s under our underwear.”

After the novelty of seeing man-bits in motion wears off (the jiggly kickline is particularly hilarious), attention turns to personalities, bodies, faces and voices.

The off-Broadway musical revue just marked its 10th anniversary, and was turned into a movie in 2007; current stagings in London and Provincetown, Mass., are primarily aimed at gay men, but the show is also marketed toward bachelorette parties.

The 16 clever songs were contributed by more than a dozen writers with showbiz pedigrees, including creator Robert Schrock, Ben Schaechter and Bruce Vilanch. A pastiche of styles, they alternate between silliness and substance, but each song is essentially a debriefing about the meanings of nakedness: emotional (“Window to the Soul”), commercial (“Perky Little Porn Star”), comic (“The Naked Maid”) and — not only and not merely — sexual.

Mostly, these songs address the poignancy of men in unguarded moments. One of the most affecting, a wistful lament to a late lover, is sung while getting dressed. Another number, called “Fight the Urge,” comically depicts the pathos of gay boys in the high school gym locker room, hoping their anatomy doesn’t betray them as jocks parade around in the buff.

Ably accompanied by pianist Spencer Baker, who keeps his pants on, the actors are endowed with pleasant voices, and with one spectacular exception (yes, Paul Pratt, we’re all looking at you) they all have normally attractive bodies.

On the show’s first weekend, the performers still seemed a little uncertain with the material, but that should improve with more performances under their (nonexistent) belts. Director Hank Emerson and choreographer Brad Barnes keep things simple, and seem to have slowed the tempos a bit, stretching out what is usually a 65-minute show.

“Naked Boys Singing!” is scheduled to run through July 4, but if it finds its audience, it has the potential to hang on for quite a while.

An extension would be a bonus for the Rack, the fetish shop that houses the Onyx Theatre — this show has a covert dual purpose, functioning as sort of a Tupperware party for the exotic underwear and accessories peddled in the store.

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