Altogether Fun: Barenaked Lads Revue Opens In Chicago Feb. 21

News   Altogether Fun: Barenaked Lads Revue Opens In Chicago Feb. 21
 
You've heard of Naked Boys Singing. On Feb 21, Chicago audiences will experience the world premiere unveiling of the comedy revue with music, Barenaked Lads in the Great Outdoors.

Not related to the earlier long-running New York and regional musical Boys revue, this fresh Lads show nevertheless uses "naked" in its title. (One imagines the use of "birthday suits" or "in the altogether" would be too vague and coy).

Bailiwick Repertory Theatre's Barenaked Lads started previews Feb. 10 at the Studio Theatre of Bailiwick Arts Center in the Windy City. The show features comedy sketches and lyrics by Andy Eninger, original music by Michael Mahler, Dan Martin and Michael Biello (all three also contribute lyrics), choreography by Baron Clay and Brenda Didier, and musical direction by Gary Edward.

Bailiwick founding artistic director David Zak directs a cast that includes Raquel Marmor and a sextet of naked guys — John Cardone, Greg Poljacik, Brook Robertson, Keith Stoneking, Scott Thomas and David Zizic.

Zak told Playbill.com he and comedy writer Eninger started putting the pieces together in 2005, when he saw that the 4-1/2-year run of Naked Boys Singing was winding down at Bailiwick's Studio (it closed Dec. 31).

Zak asked, "What can we do to fill the Naked Guys spot?" The answer was in his own backyard. Chicago, home of The Second City, is a breeding ground for comedy writers.

"Chicago is such a great comedy town," Zak said, landing on the idea of sketches-with-songs rather than just songs to fuel his show. "[This is] a show that can be topical and shift — a little like a naked 'Saturday Night Live.'"

Zak has worked before with BMI Workshop songwriters Martin and Biello, and young Chicago songwriter Mahler, who completed the writing team.

The collaborators had so many ideas that they have a half-dozen songs in reserve for future use — after all, today's "Brokeback Mountain" sketch may be yesterday's news in three months.

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Zak said the non-Equity show is for all audiences, gay and straight, and the inclusion of a clothed actress (Raquel Marmor, playing multiple parts) allows for a wider range of content and comic tension.

"That really opened up the realm of what the scenes and songs could be," Zak said.

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"Barenaked Lads introduces us to a colorful comedic gallery of characters completely at home in their 'au naturel' world," according to Bailiwick. "From the opening number that introduces six naked singers with their (clothed) female cohort, to a beautifully sung finale that celebrates the human body in all its imperfections, Barenaked Lads is an upbeat and energetic evening full of colorful characters."

Among the characters on parade: a nude gourmet who tapes a TV show; man of the cloth who casts aside both sins and clothes in a grand revival scheme; a married couple on a beach in Provincetown; a personal trainer on Montrose Beach; a group of grade school children who get an unexpected lesson at the zoo; and Troop Randolph, the glamorous 1930s Hollywood star "whose mansion and pool are overflowing with male beauty."

Designs are by Andrew (costumes), Dennis Remer (lights) with special photographic images by Ed Camara.

Performances continue to May 28. Bailiwick Arts Center is at 1229 West Belmont. For more information, visit www.bailiwick.org.

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