WATCH IT! "The Big Gay Musical": Movie Review

“The Big Gay Musical”: A Big Gay Thrill!
     In “The Big Gay Musical”, the film’s creators Casper Andreas (“Between Love & Goodbye”, “A Four Letter Word”) and Fred M. Caruso indulge gay men’s love of showtunes and camp in a big way… but you may have guessed that by the film’s title already!  Alongside the fun stuff, however, Andreas and Caruso also make a statement about some very real issues facing gay guys in 2009– Manhunt, HIV testing, internet sex hookups versus “traditional dating”, and more. The result is a movie that’s not only high-spirited and funny, but also provocative and, at times, (dare I say?!) very sweet.
     When “The Big Gay Musical” starts, we meet our two leads, Paul (Daniel Robinson) and Eddie (Joey Dudding). They are actors in a new musical comedy called “Adam and Steve: Just The Way God Made ‘Em!”– and it’s the real story about what happened in the Garden of Eden. “Adam and Steve” mirthfully explores the origins of homophobia, and gives the filmmakers an excuse to treat the audience to such eye candy as hot male angels dancing around in little more than wings and white shorty shorts. As the story goes, Adam and Eve were happy for a while, but then God (Steve Hayes) decided to create a new Adam (Paul) who– presto homo!– prefers Steve (Eddie) to Eve. Needless to say, Eve (played by Celina Carvajal) becomes furious, and she embarks upon a homophobic crusade… which persists to the present day.  The filmmakers’ play-within-a-movie gives the audience a chance to enjoy some big gay musical numbers, with songs like “God Loves Gays” and vignettes featuring characters like the “Foundations Against Gayness Society” (F.A.G.S.). Yeah, it may be blasphemous and politically testy at times– but only in a campy, candy-colored, deliberately over-the-top way. Meanwhile, our two handsome heroes are grappling with some very real issues in their personal lives. Paul, a theater-loving regular at a West Village Open Mic (“Showtunes and booze– that’s what it’s all about!“), gets dumped by his b-friend Sebastian (Joshua Cruz), sending him into a series of rebound sexual adventures which provide release but, unfortunately, no real satisfaction . At one point, desperate for intimacy, he actually calls for the services of a hustler (played by real-life XXX film star Brent Corrigan) just to have someone to “spoon” with.  In the meantime, Eddie learns that his “very religious” parents are coming to New York City to see their son in his Big Apple debut. But, even though he’s appearing in the gayest off-Broadway show in town, Eddie’s not out to his parents. Incidentally, he’s also still a virgin when we meet him, but not for long. His hot-to-trot fellow “Adam and Steve” actors (who we always see gathered in the dressing room– in various states of undress, natch…) encourage Eddie to go out with them one night. A catharsis of sorts happens after a few drinks, when Eddie strips to his skivvies and jumps up onto the bar counter to mimic the go-go boy. His first man-to-man sexual experience isn’t far behind… but after that pivotal event, he faces an HIV scare as well as rejection. Poor Eddie can’t understand why his first trick doesn’t call him back the next day. Oh my, this boy has a lot to learn…
     Will Paul find romance?  Will Eddie come out to his parents?  Will “Adam and Steve: Just the Way God Made ‘Em!” be a big, gay hit?
     Directors Casper Andreas and Fred Caruso don’t waste a single shot in “The BIg Gay Musical”.  The film features slick editing and clear, sharp cinematography.  The romantic scenes are well-photographed… and sexy!  The two leads, Daniel Robinson and Joey Dudding (both actors with Broadway backgrounds) show their triple talents: they can act, sing, and dance very, very well…  and, to restate the obvious, they are both very easy on the eyes.  Village Voice columnist Michael Musto turns up in a very funny cameo, and Steve Hayes, as God, steals the scenes he’s in the same way he seized the attention in 1999’s “Trick”– allowing the actor to be a scene-stealer in two landmark gay movies.  Liz McCartney, as red-haired diva Patty Mae (a larger-than-life Broadway-style belter; Think a zaftig Rue McClanahan), turns the show’s finale, “As I Am”, into a showstopper which dares the audience to shed a few tears.  And yes, “The Big Gay Musical” does have a happy ending.  Actually, there are two happy endings– but if you think you’ve guessed the curtain call of “The Big Gay Musical” already, you may be in for a surprise!    
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   “A Big Gay Musical” premiered on Friday, September 11th at Chelsea’s Clearview Cinema. Before the show, the cast and crew mingled and enjoyed cocktails and nibbly things in a lounge decorated with huge, fabulous “The Big Gay Musical” posters. Among the attendees were the film’s creators: the perpetually high-spirited Fred M. Caruso (who wrote, produced, and co-directed the film), and co-director Casper Andreas— one of the busiest filmmakers out there, and also one of the most prolific. This is Andreas’ fourth movie. Also seen were Rick Crom, who wrote and arranged the music; Village Voice columnist Michael Musto, who has a funny cameo in the movie’s first scene as a bitchy theater critic (“I need a musical… a big, gay musical!”); Celina Carvajal (“Eve” in the film’s play-within-a-movie “Adam and Steve”); Marty Thomas (an unambiguously gay angel named “Dorothy”); Steve Hayes (the most fabulous “God” ever put on film!); and Joshua Cruz (“Sebastian”), and Rick Skye (AKA “Slice O’ Minnelli”) who appears in a cameo in all-out Liza drag. Also present was Lady Clover Honey. The Queen of All Media has a dual role in the film: as a drag queen at an Open Mic, and as one of the main character’s Manhunt dates. (Clover Honey also appeared in Andreas’ “Between Love & Goodbye” and “A Four Letter Word”.) Also seen were recording artist Lovari, and actors Jesse Archer, Allison Lange, and Margaret R.R. Echeverria. And of course, the film’s two 2QTBstr8 leading men– Daniel Robinson (“Paul”) and Joey Dudding (“Eddie”), who were recent coverboys for New York City’s weekly gay mag “Next”, were there. After the film, the cast and crew of “The Big Gay Musical” assembled on stage to share anecdotes about the making of the movie, and to tell the audience about their current endeavors. Needless to say, this gang of talented souls is pretty busy– writing, performing, producing, directing, etc… Scene stealer Liz McCartney (big-voiced and big-haired diva “Patty Mae”), couldn’t be there because she was appearing on Broadway that night in “South Pacific”. But Ben Ryan, who plays a go-go boy in “The Big Gay Musical”, got the biggest reaction when he revealed his next career move: “I’m waiting for Casper to ask me to suck a guy’s cock again in his next movie!” (He was referring to his role as a trick in Andreas’ film “Slutty Summer”).
     The big gay fun continued at XES Lounge in Chelsea for the official afterparty for “The Big Gay Musical”. I spoke to co-director Casper Andreas about how the movie is more than just a big, gay singing and dancing extravaganza: It also as its moments about the more difficult aspects of living as a gay man in 2009. He agreed: “In addition to the music, we wanted to insert some serious issues into this one, like HIV testing…” Andreas is already at work completing his next movie, called “Violet Tendencies” (formerly known as “Bye Bye Fruit Fly”), which will star former “Facts of Life” actress Mindy Cohn as a perky fag hag looking for her (straight) Mr. Right. Can’t wait!!!
Photo 1: Daniel Robinson, Lady Clover Honey, Joey Dudding
Photo 2: Marty Thomas, Lady Clover Honey, Celina Carvajal
Photo 3: Director Casper Andreas
Photo 4: Jed Ryan & Steve Hayes


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