The Broadway Blog’s editor Matthew Wexler is on the heels of the latest offerings from this year’s New York Musical Theatre Festival.
Spend an evening set in the basement of the American Legion Hall (Post 69) in Lodi, New Jersey, and be prepared for a pot-luck of gay-inspired show tunes that range from Forbidden Broadway-style knock-offs to contemporary musical theater riffs that show theatrical promise beyond the imaginary confines of its setting. Boys Will Be Boys (book and lyrics by Joe Miloscia; music by Kenneth Kacmar) is—for the most part—a light-hearted revue that follows four gents and a lady as they raise funds for an imaginary sufferer of GAY.D.D. (Gay Attention Deficit Disorder).
This slim story structure offers a framework for show tunes that borrow (and occasionally steal) from the musical theater songbook. For anyone that has spent late nights on YouTube or iTunes, you’ll recognize rehashed melodies from Mame, Little Shop of Horrors and a host of other musicals. Throw in a Lena Horne tribute and you’ve got theater divas through the ages. Both the content and the performances very greatly, but there are enough shining moments that you’ll find yourself rooting for a GAY.D.D. cure.
Forgoing their forgettable character names, Jeremy Pasha, Ryan Speakman, Steph Stanek and Rance Wright comprise the company, with Courtney Cowart as the lone female. It is Cowart—delivering the bulk of the show’s script with deadpan humor—that seems to most naturally capture the intended style and delivery. Cowart is reminiscent of a cleaned-up Bridget Everett, one of New York City’s bawdiest downtown performance artists, and she’s got the pipes to belt out her only solo number, “All the Good Ones.”
There are lots of lowbrow innuendos, jokes about penis size, bottoming, topping, little blue pills and any other gay reference you can imagine circa 1998. And this is where the show falls flat. For this reviewer, the gay voice in Boys Will Be Boys is filtered through a cassette tape (does anyone remember what that is? Exactly.) Then Speakman delivers the 11 o’clock number, “Giant,” a narrative ballad about first love, hate crime and letting go. It is in this moment where the audience catches a glimpse of the creative team’s talents. The haunting melody and honest delivery captivated the audience. Of course, a musical revue of this sort can only have one such number, but it’s a shame that the rest of the material didn’t rise to the occasion. Perhaps a little blue pill is in order.
Boys Will Be Boys appears as part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival. Remaining performances are July 24, 9:30 p.m.; July 26, 5:30 p.m.