The ballsiest little musical in years arrives at the Seymour Centre. Musical theatre performer Chris McGovern talks to Time Out about going starkers for a singsong
It’s probably one of the most literal titles ever. Eight boys on stage singing naked. But, trust me, it’s not a gimmick, the rest of the cast are incredibly talented – and they can sing! Maybe ‘singing’ should be in capitals. But if you’re asking if we’re naked – yes, we certainly are 95 percent of the time. You get to see everything! But it’s not about having no clothes on. The show is about appreciating the male form and having a ‘blank canvas’ to work from. By the end of the show, I want people to appreciate the talent, not just the nakedness.
Still, it sounds like every performer’s nightmare to find themselves naked on stage.
I treat it like a costume. Like every costume that you put on, you’re not playing yourself – you’re actually playing a character. In Miss Saigon actors play hookers in thongs and bikinis. It doesn’t make them less or more talented. In Beauty and the Beast you can put anyone in a teapot costume and they can be a teapot.
But this costume you can’t hide behind. It’s about literal raw naked unplugged talent. There’s nothing to hide behind and in some way I’m sure it will inspire me and the rest of the cast to deliver an amazing performance.
What’s the appeal for the audience?
This is a funny, funny show! It’s been packing in audiences for 14 years off-Broadway and I’m surprised it hasn’t come back to Australia earlier. Sure, you get to see it all, but I can guarantee you that everyone will find this show a musical, theatrical, comedic feast! The hilarious lyrics and catchy songs is what attracted me to the show in the first place. I’m sure they’ll leave the audience laughing and singing them in their sleep.
What about the appeal of the show for you as a performer?
It was a style of show I’ve never done before. I’ve always done big theatrical shows and this is a more intimate and personal show with a phenomenal creative team attached that had a great score and grunt to it that pushed boundaries – but not in a distasteful way. The show was already playing for a very long time overseas and is exceptionally well respected in theatrical circles. There was an awful lot of boys queuing up to get a role in the Australian version. When I saw and heard some of the concepts for the sexier and sleek re-vamping of the show I was sold! I’m very glad to be selected and part of such a wonderful show. I also think there’s liberation to getting on stage and being naked that really opens you up to any characters you get in future. It’s not about the costumes or the sets; it’s about the characterisation and the performance.
In the spirit of the show, I’ll ask this bluntly: How much experience, if any, do you have entertaining while naked?
None of us can honestly say we haven’t danced around naked with a hair brush Risky Business-style – but in front of a packed house at the Seymour Centre? No, this is a first!
Are there any nudists in the cast or anything like that?
I think there’s one or two of us that get naked at the drop of a hat (excuse the pun).
You’re also doing one show for nudists.
All for one, one for all. I think it’s great that some people put it all out there and not in a sexual way. I don’t want to get all deep on you, but if we all stopped hiding our light behind a bushel and were more honest with ourselves and removed all our pretences (and I’m not just talking about clothes) the world might be a better place.
I’m curious to know what it’ll be like for you after you finish this show, when you’re performing clothed. Do you think it’s possible you’ll miss being nude on stage?
I don’t think I’ll miss performing naked, but after Newcastle, Wollongong, Canberra and Melbourne it might just be second nature.