A promised romp of libidinous nudity packs the audience in, all right, yet playwright Ronnie Larsen's wit and timing keeps it real and personal in a story that's short on plot and character development but long on laughter. Set in very gay West Hollywood, 10 Naked Men is an entertaining account of the lives of actors who become hustlers. Larsen, who also directs, took over the role of Robert (vacated by an ill actor), becoming the driving force that brings to life ten actors of variable talents. As Robert, a Shakespearean actor from Denver who's set to make it big in Hollywood, he discovers that even a heavyset person can land a national commercial, albeit by dubious and nefarious means. The first hustler we meet in the play, Steve (Sean W. Davis), meets a young attractive banker, Kenny (Preston Lee Britton), and is immediately smitten. Steve makes his money as a model/escort, just like the hunk in the ads of gay magazines, but Kenny, oblivious to whom he's getting involved with, constantly spouts his disdain of the "profession." While this is happening, Richard, played by real-life porn star Luke Pearson, dreams of acting, but he falls into the hustling business because he can't read copy and gets caught up in this world of lies and deceit. The nudity, sordid language, and sexual situations that include spanking, dog training, and water sports may deter some patrons; it may attract others. Let the buyer beware. But it's all in fun. (Through March 6 at Cinema Paradiso, 503 SE Sixth St., Fort Lauderdale, 954-537-3718.)
It's all there -- the sooty buildings, the sunless streets, the cockney rabble, and the little boy who committed the cardinal sin of asking his orphanage turnkey for some more gruel ("Please, sir, I want some more"). It's all there in the traveling production of Lionel Bart's 45-year-old musical Oliver!, that is, minus a lot of the grace, wit, and emotion of the original. Be warned. It takes a crack sound system to deliver all the twisted vowels and dropped consonants of working-class Brit English. Still, the powerful story breaks through. Renata Renee Wilson as the doomed Nancy is a heartbreaker when she sings "As Long as He Needs Me," her paean of loyalty to her abusive boyfriend, the scary Bill Sikes (Shane R. Tanner). Young Colin Bates as the Artful Dodger, Oliver's nimble, slippery, pickpocketing friend, is an electric presence every time he takes center stage. Adrian Vaux's sets capture all the oppressive gloom of post-industrial London (the society that made Marx a Marxist) with just enough space for little fires to break out from time to time. (Through March 13 at the Jackie Gleason Theater, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach, 305-673-7300, and March 15-20, Kravis Center, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach, 561-832-SHOW.)
Who knew a large production could be enjoyable on a smaller scale? Curtain Call Playhouse's valiant effort for its first musical is a fast-paced evening of pop musical favorite Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, the biblical tale of Joseph (Jarrod K. Gac), whose gift of a multicolored coat sets a course of jealousy and greed. The young man is betrayed, attacked, and imprisoned, but it's the retribution that will create many a devotee. Director Ed Meszaros' indefatigable cast of 25 moves from scene to scene with quick changes of costume, including Egyptian pleated skirts and headdresses, modernized for different numbers. The music, with its disco, calypso, and Cuban mix, will leave you humming. Almost every song is a showstopping turn, notably Gac's "Close Every Door," a tenor's dream ballad, and "Song of the King," sung by the Pharaoh (Jon Peterson) as Elvis. Despite a poor sound system and a dearth of lighting at the Herb Skolneck Center, an energetic group of young actors out to steal your heart triumphs in the end. (February 26 and 27, Oakland Park Elementary School, 936 NE 33rd St., Oakland Park, 954-784-0768.)
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