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Seattle by David-Edward Hughes

Bed, Boys and Beyond at the
Oak Room at Thumpers

Bed, Boys and Beyond
Marc Willis and Chuck Tracy
After a number of years without a specifically gay audience-targeted theatre company in Seattle (where memories of the late, lamented Alice B. and Greek Active Theatre companies live on), Gaydar Productions has met with significant success, producing Party and Corpus Christi in the past year or so. Bed, Boys and Beyond is their first musical, and in Rick Anderson's sharply staged, crisply cast production in the cozy Oak Room at Thumpers, it is the perfect anti-holiday holiday revue for gay and savvy straight audience members alike.

By trimming and cutting many of librettist Jeff Dobbins' monologue moments and putting focus on Dobbins' lyrics and the music of Alfredo Alvarez, Bed, Boys and Beyond becomes a tight, 65-minute musical toast to all things gay and beautiful, but also to issues that still confront the gay community on a daily basis. Dobbins' lyrics have been adjusted to be more Seattle-centric (the show was first a hit at New York's Duplex in 2000) so that "Here in Chelsea" is now "Capitol Hill Man," and other such adjustments occur within songs. The Dobbins/Alvarez tunestack resembles most clearly the type of songs you would find in a Maltby and Shire revue like Closer Than Ever, and that is meant as a compliment. .

Director Rick Anderson uses the cozy confines of the Oak Room as well as I have yet seen done, having his cast pop up all over the room and really interact with the audience (and if they ask for audience volunteers, do - it may win you a free cocktail). Musical Director/accompanist Michael Poulsen has gotten a great ensemble sound from the cast, who portray a cheery cross section of gay archetypes with strong voices and good comic timing.

Former Seattle Men's Chorus mainstay Marc Willis is the most accomplished performer in the ensemble cast. Even without a vocal solo of his own, Willis' stage savvy, presence and solid pipes help him pop out in such numbers as "Searching for A Euphemism" with Chuck Tracy and the company, and the trio "There's Always Some Guy," which he shares with Chuck Tracy and Greg Bowman. Willis and Tracy share the comic but honest "Seven Week Itch" with great gusto, and Tracy, a genial, full-figured charmer, does a bang up job with the hilarious "Wedding Monologue." Greg Bowman out Zazas Albin from La Cage aux Folles with his feather boa, flaunting camp in "The Misfit's Lament." The youthful, unforced charm of Jacob Mahoney makes a ballad like "May I Take Your Hand" steer clear of the kind of maudlin trap it might otherwise prove to be, and he and Kevin Novreske make an agreeably odd couple in the affecting duet "Mr. Right." Novreske, while obviously suffering vocal duress from some winter flu bug or other, managed to forge on valiantly, and sold the next-to-closing ballad "Family Values" with low-key sincerity. Accompanist Poulsen is a real find, and not just behind the keyboards, as he not only augments the fine group vocal sound, but delivers the comic number "The Freak Magnet" with real joie de vivre.

The Oak Room is small, cozy and you have dinner and a show, or just a dessert/drinks option. With very little pre-opening hoopla, Bed, Boys and Beyond is selling well and has deservedly extended its original run by several weekends into December. It is a good option for those who have a seasonal aversion to Dickens' ghosts, nativity reenactments and sugarplum fairies. Another sort of fairies, however, is in welcome abundance at this cabaret.

Bed, Boys & Beyond at the Oak Room at Thumpers, 1500 East Madison, Fridays and Saturdays at 9 PM, through December 18, 2004. Tickets are $12.50. For reservations call (206) 328-3800.



- David-Edward Hughes



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