With a title like Rent Boy – the Musical, I didn’t expect an evening of high-brow theatre from Above the Stag’s latest offering at the country’s only full time LGBT theatre venue. And it certainly wasn’t high-brow!
The show tells the story of Rent Boy Devon Williams who accidentally falls in love with one of his clients but refuses to be with him because it breaks the ‘Rent Boy Rules’. This story is told through a Rent Boy Awards Ceremony where each of the boys wins a prize and then sings a song to reflect how they got to where they are in life. There really isn’t much more to the story than this. The lyrics by David Leddick try to be catchy but end up more cringeworthy. The only memorable song is ‘Who Invented The Jock Strap’ which features the dancing boys in, well you guessed it, just a jock strap.
There are some good performances in this show. Conleth Kane plays Devon Williams well, with a convincing american accent and powerful vocals (if not a little too Mariah Carey) and Lucas Meredith was funny as Danny Cruise. At first Samuel Clifford (the Client) was impressive with his powerful vocals but then fell flat somewhere in the middle of the show. He did pick it up again during act two and overall was a good performance. Frank Loman (MC) was uncomfortable to watch, muddling through his lines and not really brining any charisma to the role.
I love a bit of smut, and seeing lots of naked gym bodies isn’t something I’m going to ever turn down (you gotta get your kicks where you can at my age) and if you’re looking for a bit of cheap fun it is entertaining. But if you’re looking for a good story with good songs, you might want to try else where. Rent Boy the Musical is what it is and does what it says on the tin. But with similar shows like Bathhouse the Musical having been performed at the same venue recently, this just doesn’t hit the same spot.
Reviewed by West End Wilma
Photo: Derek Drescher
Rent Boy the Musical is playing at Above the Stag Theatre until 2 August 2015 (having extended due to popular demand). Book your tickets here