By Taffy Jaffe
Well, I am about to lose my virginity. This is the first time I am writing a theater review. Previously, I have been critical of critics. The cherry on the cake was when Ben Brantley gave Patti LuPone appearing in the Encores series "Gypsy" a lousy review. Trust me, she was brilliant. When the show moved to Broadway he retracted his comments and raved about her performance. So, I had mixed feelings about reviewing. I know there is tremendous blood, sweat and tears in most every production. Who wants to be a spoil sport? So, would I have to make nice?
Well, there's bad news and good news. The good news is I fell in love with Ryan Speakman, an incredible talent, who should be the next leading man everywhere. Just when I thought there was no hope left, he stopped the show singing "Giant" a simple, real, deeply moving number about young love and homophobia. We were finally in 2013 addressing important issues. I understand he sings from time to time at Laurie Beechman Theater and I would walk there in a heat wave to hear him.
I could hardly pay attention to the lighting, staging, costumes, etc. as I was so offended by the material. The other cast members moved well and sang well but were stuck with the offensive script. I then felt glad I had an opportunity to vent about that. I can not believe the same man, Joe Miloscia, could have written that wonderful song along with the other offending lyrics and book. After the show I ran into him on the street, recognizing him from the theater, but not knowing who he was I asked: "Did you just see "Boys Will Be Boys?" "Yes." I don't know what made me then say: "Did you have something to do with it?" "Yes", he answered, "I wrote it." Gulp, a moment of truth. "What did you think of it?" he asked. "I loved Ryan and his solo." "What about the rest?" he asked. "Well, I found it full of old stereotypes." "Oh", he said, "I wrote it seven years ago."
Aha, alas, I doubt it had been updated since then. An opportunity lost during this gay revolution to say something of substance. Before you enter the theater you are given a small pencil to use later to play a bingo game inserted in the program. Don't ask. It is later explained the winner of the game will receive, I kid you not, a Hackensack River Cruise. This is the level of the humor. The cast consists of four men and one woman. The woman runs lots of the bingo game. She berates audience members "Look at your bingo card", "did you get the joke?"
We are supposed to be in the basement of a meeting hall. "We couldn't get the upstairs," and apropos of nothing, " there's a bar mitzvah going on up there." We are supposed to be in an American Legion Hall, Post 69 (ha, ha). The meeting is for "gay a.d.d.'s", men not getting enough attention especially after 50. Not bad, the ageism issue, but note, there is noone in the cast even near 50.
There is little plot. The songs tell us the stories. "Balls" an unathletic man, "I'm no good at balls ....I'm just a girl at heart." Haven't we recently seen guys 'good at balls' coming out. Haven't we seen some girl athletes who are ' good at balls'? Then the female sings: "All the good ones are gay.... why did he want to fuck a boy?" Still, can't figure that one out. She continues to helps us identify who is gay before you fall for him. You know the list, listening to too much Barbra and Sondheim. She resolves the
issue in another number where she makes a pact with a gay man that they will marry each other in their older years. Now there's an answer. Who needs to legalize gay marriage? We conclude when one of the men is caught kissing the woman, and confesses that he is straight, which disgusts everyone. I hadn't heard this was a big issue in the community.
Oh well, this might be my last review.
BOYS WILL BE BOYS BY TAFFY JAFFE FRIDAY, JULY 19, 2013
Book/Lyrics, Joe Miloscia, Music, Kenneth Kacmar, Musical Director, Alex LeFevre, Director/Choreographer, Joe Barros.
Cast: Courtney Couart, Jeremy Pasha, Ryan Speakman, Seph Stanck, Rane Wright.
Running Time: 1 hour 35 minutes, Remaining Showtimes: Saturday, July 20, 9:30, Wednesday, July 24, at 9:30, Friday, July 26, at 5:30. Location: Signature Studio Theatre, 480 West 42 Street. Ticket price: $25.00 For Info and Tickets: (212) 352 3101, on line: nymf.org