Assisted greatly by the facile keyboard work of Stephen Bates and the atmospheric lighting of Michael Gilliam, the ensemble numbers are especially rewarding. The hilariously choreographed “976 Number,” written by Kirby Tepper and featuring Bill Hutton, Bill Ledesma and Tepper, has the guys attempting to give it their macho best as telephone studs.
The tender ballad, “Desmond, Sam & Ellen” (music by Glenn Sternbach, lyrics by Lindy Robbins), features the beautifully harmonized voices of Margot Rose, Ledesma and Hutton as a trio of gay friends who nurture and support each other throughout their lives. Ledesma and Hutton also team up on the soaring duet, “My Superman,” composed by Wayne Moore. A comedic highlight of the evening features Peggy Hewitt and ensemble performing Jeffrey Rockwell’s “Bisexual Tango,” a musical ode to a lady who gloried in having it both ways.
Amidst all the outstanding ensemble work, the solo material is probably the most soul-reaching and cathartic. Accompanying herself on guitar, Nishimura offers the sob-inducing rendition of Tom Brown’s “Jonathan Wesley Oliver, Jr.,” a haunting farewell to a childhood friend who has died of AIDS.
Also noteworthy are Rose’s outing on Holly Near’s “Simply Love,” Ledesma’s version of Dale Gonyea’s tribute to a man and his dog, “John & Fred,” and Bill Hutton’s heartfelt “Sweet Dreams,” a love ballad by John Bucchino.
The solo material offers some laughs as well. Rose is a riot with “All the Good Men are Gay” (music by Ron Abel, lyrics by Bruce H. Newberg), an over-the-top musical lament on the lack of suitable single heterosexual men. Equally as guffaw-inducing is Hewitt’s “She’s a Cunning Linguist,” a double-entendre-ridden ditty by Sternbach and Robbins.
But the most adept comedian in the group has to be Tepper. His “Lookin’ At Me” (music by Ben Schaacter, lyrics by Dan Kaal & Rick Unterberg) is a tour-de-force portrayal of the ultimate homophobic soldier.
Sprinkled throughout the show are clever little “slanguage” monologues that spotlight the often ludicrous synonyms (roommate, significant other, workout buddy, etc.) gay people have come up with to describe their lovers to the outside world.