By Joel Benjamin
Boyish energy emanated from the intimate Stage 72 (formerly the Triad) as Brad Bradley zoomed through his autobiographical B-Squared. Joshua Zecher-Ross was his gung-ho accompanist. Joshua’s youthfulness became fodder for some inter-generational humor between him and the much older Brad. (Just kidding. Brad is very fit and youthful.)
The two running themes of B-Squared (Brad Bradley—get it?) were Brad’s precocious (gay) interest in showbiz and Brad’s adult (gay) interests in men…and showbiz. He opened with a purposely ironic song, “Gay” (Stephen Lynch) in which the singer declares in no uncertain terms that he is not gay (“Get your hands out of my pants!”). Brad had appeared at the Triad in Boobs! The Musical so he felt quite at home on that stage. He turned the room into a living room with witty tales of poofing up his tresses as a kid dancer—appearing in a Michael Jackson video—to trodding the Broadway boards in Billy Elliot, Spamalot, Thou Shalt Not, Annie Get Your Gun and Steel Pier.
His mom was sympathetic to his showbiz aspirations. He said she eschewed the term “fag hag” for “fruit fly.” He sang “Danny Boy,” accompanying himself on the ukulele for his mom. It was his dour Irish dad who couldn’t get around the idea that his son liked to play with Barbie Dolls. “Drunkin Irish Dad” (Danny Smith & Walter Murphy) perfectly described his relationship with his father.
He then went full blast into his personal life in a series of songs that varied between wide-eyed romantic to blissfully sexual. “One More Minute” (Al Yankovic) had an Elvis feel. Despite being torn between fear of AIDS and the “glory of love,” he could not tear himself away from the love of a “Beautiful Man” (Johnny Rodgers & Barbara Carole Sickman), an ardent love song. Irving Berlin’s old chestnut, “You’d Be Surprised” with a simple gender switch took on a different meaning. “Slut on a Monday Night” (Cole Escola & Greg Potter) was yet another overtly, but funny, sexy song.
Brad did manage to outline his stage career with some colorfully snarky stories, and dance a bit all the while changing hats to get into different characters. He bantered with Joshua who was a perfect foil and a terrific musician.
He ended his exuberant show with the quiet William Finn hymn to this country, “Hitchhiking Across America,” musing about all the men he met and slept with. He became a bit philosophical, saying that “it’s easier to love yourself than like yourself.”
There’s no doubt that Brad Bradley is an accomplished actor/singer/dancer with an enjoyment of entertaining. B-Squared doesn’t really delve terribly deeply into his emotional life. He also seemed not to have very many professional setbacks. The show was simply a gay romp, skillfully assembled and artfully performed by a young at heart guy who clearly loves what he does.
Brad Bradley in B-Squared (March 5th, 2014)
158 West 72nd St., 2nd Floor New York, NY
Information: 212-362-2590 or www.triadnyc.com
Further B-Squared Information: email@example.com
Running Time: 1 hour