Chicago Theatre Review
Sunshine on My Shoulders
The Boys in Briefs: at the Beach! – Pride Films and Plays
With the outside temperature lodged in the frigid 20 degree range, and combined with a wind chill, the snow, sleet and freezing rain, January in Chicago seems like the most unlikely time and place to be experiencing a “Summer Breeze.” But in David Zak’s cleverly constructed and expertly performed and warmly welcome Wintertime revue, particularly (but not exclusively) aimed at LGBT audiences, patrons will soon forget the bitter cold outsides and revel in the warmth and hot sexiness of a “Summer in the City.”
Under the crackerjack musical direction, arrangement and deft accompaniment provided by pianist, Nick Sula, four handsome and hunky young actor/singers launch into a series of harmonized choral numbers, scintillating solos and dynamic duets. They include Scott Gryder, Donterrio Johnson, Chris Logan and Luke Meierdiercks. The unifying element of this show is that every song is an anthem to hot weather and certain special activities enjoyed during those blessed warmer months.
Things get rolling, appropriately enough, with “California Dreaming,” made famous by the 60’s quartet, The Mamas and the Papas. As the boys sing and dream about a sunnier, more temperate climate they begin seductively stripping down to their titular briefs. As the evening progresses, the guys return to the stage modeling a variety of other underwear of various colors and styles, from bikini briefs to sequin-studded short-shorts.
The revue features all the guys harmonizing their way through “Walkin’ on Sunshine,” “Heat Wave,” a Beach Boys medley composed of “I Get Around,” “Good Vibrations,” “Surfer Girl” and “Surfin’ USA.” They also blend nicely in a rendition of “Mr. Sandman,” a kicky version of “Summer Nights,” from Grease, and the always catchy “Beach Baby.”
Solo numbers include Chris Logan’s sensuous “Ain’t No Sunshine” and “The Boy From Ipanema;” Luke Meierdiercks’ hot time with “Summer in the City;” Donterrio Johnson’s provocative “Under the Boardwalk;” and Scott Gryder’s comic way with “When the Sun Comes Out” and “Ain’t No Cure for the Summertime Blues.”
In the middle of the hour-long cabaret event, two talented guest performers take the stage for a slight change of pace. Inspired by their knockout performances in PF&P’s recent production of “The Boy From Oz,” Nancy Hays and Michelle Lauto recreate their roles of Judy and Liza, singing a magical mashup of “Happy Days Are Here Again” and “Get Happy.” They’ll be entertaining audiences in a special full-length, two-night cabaret production of their own, January 31-February 1, at this very venue, entitled “Judy Garland & Liza Minnelli—Once in a Lifetime: The London Palladium Concert.”
Back to the beautifully buff Boys in Briefs, Chris and Donterrio blend their voices and bodies in the ethereal “Summer Breeze,” while Scott and Luke combine mirth and moisture in their sexy version of “Soakin’ Wet.” Also included in the evening’s program are piano solos by Mr. Sula, which range from Gershwin’s “Summertime” to the cinematic “Theme From a Summer Place.” The revue concludes with a reprise of a burning hot “Heat Wave,” to offer the audience one final moment with some sunshine on their shoulders.
Although this will be the group’s only January performance, director David Zak promises that this quartet of sexy songsters will quite likely be performing the last Tuesday of every month. The group may feature some new members and/or the theme and the songs will undoubtedly be revised to fit the specific time of year, but the musical talent will remain.
Reviewed by Colin Douglas
Presented January 26 by Pride Films & Plays at the Uptown Underground, 4707 N. Broadway, Chicago.
Information about this recurring event, as well as other upcoming cabaret performances and theatrical productions, can be found by going to www.pridefilmsandplays.com. Tickets may be purchased at the site or by calling 800-737-0984.
Additional information about this and other fine area productions can be found by visiting www.theatreinchicago.com