“Eating Raoul” – Nearly Naked Theatre

This review aired on KBAQ June 6, 2011


Nearly Naked Theatre, The Little Theatre at Phoenix Theatre
Phoenix, AZ

The 1982 cult film black comedy “Eating Raoul” spoofed bizarre sexual perversions. Add music and it’s become an even weirder stage musical. That kind of kinky extravaganza is right up Nearly Naked Theatre’s alley so they are now staging the show’s Arizona premiere.

There are some moments of stupid hilarity but the musical, like the film, is filled with such excess that it’s not always knock ‘em dead humor. To successfully stage shows like “Eating Raoul,” the perfect cast of farceurs is required. While the Nearly Naked staging is competent, only some of the cast shines.

It’s about the super square couple, Mary and Paul Bland. They want to escape Los Angeles in the wild 1960s and open a restaurant. They lack the down payment on the perfect location so they decide to raise the money by becoming sexual swingers doing kinky things for rich perverts. They will kill their clients, steal their money, rid the world of a few sexual weirdoes, and get their diner. The first act drags as the couple discovers a wacky world they never knew existed. The second act is brighter as the sexual atrocities grow into bizarre wackiness.

Director Damon Dering’s cast is all over the place. Alaina Beauloye’s superbly sung and genuinely amusing Mary is balanced by Doug Loynd’s weakly sung and acted Paul. He looks the part but that’s about it. Cisco Saavedra’s Raoul lacks the oily sexiness and alluring sexual innuendo this role mandates and weak vocals don’t help. Standouts playing smaller roles are Laura Anne Kenney’s sultry and sexy Dominatrix and Micah Peterson has the swagger necessary to bring off a guy who likes to parade around as Ginger Rogers among many parts he essays with comic allure.

Dering’s pacing is thwarted badly by errant sets that must be pulled and pushed awkwardly into place lethargically to create the musical’s many and quickly changing locales. Big musicals always prove challenging for Nearly Naked because the theater they use as few stage tools necessary to pull off musical theater magic. The show seems longer than the two hour running time because just as it starts moving, it’s time for a set change and things slow to a creaky crawl.

Outstanding is conductor/keyboardist Mark 4Man and his band that play the Jed Feuer/Boyd Graham songs with splashy panache.

If you’re looking for a zany, weird, and sexually suggestive smut-filled delight, “Eating Raoul: The Musical” might appeal but if you’re looking for a truly hilarious and sleekly performed sex farce, this show doesn’t always measure up. It continues through June 25. For tickets, call the Phoenix Theatre box office at 602-254-2151.

Grade: C