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Theater Mon Jun 08 2015

Roast Beef @ CIC Theater, A Tale of Sexy Satire

Roast Beef Pose (474x560).jpg

Ladies and gents, a night out on the town may be in order, and if you want to laugh with your friends until your face hurts, you should take them to a play about an all-male review called Roast Beef and be sure to sit in the first two rows. But be forewarned, there will be a few men in thongs throughout the production, so don't take your out-of-town relatives who want to see what you are up to in the big city. That said, there were a few grandmas in the crowd who were really enjoying themselves, so if they are really fun and open-minded relatives who don't mind frequent references to genitalia in your presence, by all means bring them along.

With the help of director Mike Klasek, we joined five beefcakes backstage at a male strip club, where we learned of their individual circumstances, their struggles and their ambitions. Dr. Dong, played by Tyler Samples, is putting himself through med school so he can support his widowed mother. The Dad, played by Tim Lyons, is just trying to make ends meet for his new family, whereas the Kid, played by Eddie Klinker, is a nervous first night performer trying to decide what to do with his life. El Gigante, played by Damian Anaya, is the strong silent type, and the Flash played by Micah Sterenberg, is a career dancer who wants nothing more than to be top dog in the show and surpass the reputation of the chronically irresponsible and absent star Blaine, played by Mike Marunowski.

Their frequent testosterone-driven ego clashes are mitigated by the fact that they are constantly rubbing baby oil all over each other and helping to work out tense muscle kinks for one another. It's a touchy-feely show, with a healthy nod to homo-eroticism. But Miss Martini, played by Traycie McBee, keeps the boys in line, beating down their inflated egos with sexual innuendo and building up the backstory, which involves the drama of the missing star beef boy, Blaine.

After the intermission is where the action happens. The strip numbers were energetically choreographed, thanks to Tess Borgerding, to break down the fourth wall in hilarious and shocking ways. This may be the right time to point out that the Beef Boyz are a talented bunch of actors with great dance moves, but they all resemble the boy next door more than a male model or gym rat. There were not too many well-defined pectoral muscles in the house, for all the talk of it, and this made the show even more farcical and fun.

When it comes to dance, it is all about attitude to convey your message, and the resident DILF--chubby, red-headed Tim--had the most confident dance moves of the evening, simultaneously dancing as if in his own private fantasy and also having the aplomb to play a little air guitar while wearing a thong, the sight of which will solidify every woman's suspicion about what guitar solos are actually all about.

The script may not have Shakespearean aspirations, but it is not without human drama and comical character intricacy, to the credit of writers Sarah Hatheway and Kyle Chorpening. At times it seemed as if the cast was on the verge of laughing themselves, something they probably chastise themselves about, but as every viewer of SNL knows, it can be quite satisfying for the audience to witness the cast becoming overwhelmed by their own absurdity. There was a little opening night stumbling over lines, but it was well played off. Clearly, as the show continues its run, those things will be ironed out. Each performance will be a unique one, since half of the show's energy depends on audience reaction and participation. Make you and your friends part of that energy and you will leave sated.

CIC Theater, located at 1422 W Irving Park Rd., will run Roast Beef Saturdays at 8pm June 6-July 18 (no show July 4). Tickets are $10 per person.

 
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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »

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