NEW YORK Set in 1940s Texas, and brimming with cowboy hats and shirtless wranglers, the off-off-off-Broadway “Cowboys!” is a gay musical comedy that played at Dallas’ now-defunct Pegasus Theatre in 2001. The action takes place at the Straight Arrow dude ranch, which, of course, is replete with gay cowpokes.
Packed with plot turns, “injuns” and campy quips, like “It’s just a flesh wound,” and everyone’s favorite, “I wish I knew how to quit you.” “Cowboys!” is amateurish but in the best possible way.
The bankrupt ranch is run by Aunt Rosie (the charismatic Brynn Neal). About to go into foreclosure for owing $300 in back taxes, Rosie corrals her “boys of the pastel persuasion,” and they decide to harness their natural talents: sewing, set decorating and dancing. They’re going to put on a show to raise money. Yee-haw!
But little do they know, city slickers are trying swindle the land and thwart the show. Straight Arrow is secretly full of black gold, and it could blow a load at any time.
“Cowboys!” is like “Waiting for Guffman” meets “Gunsmoke.” Except this show has a sexy sheriff and two Miss Kittys who can really, really sing.
Although it had a few too many fleshed out subplots and the accompanying long-winded campfire ballads, the enthusiasm and sincerity of the unpaid cast cannot be overstated.
The “Hey gang, let’s put on a show!” feel makes up for every way-too-long song or oh-so-faux knife fight.
Houston homeboy Brian Ogilvie plays Rick, the Texas Ranger. His authentic accent as a swaggering lawman compliments a charming performance.
Jennifer Fagundes is especially talented as Lilly Luscious. And David Tacheny has a great turn as the villainous Boston Bart Black.
Also worth noting is the two-stepping, cotton-eyed-joe finale “Cloggin’ onto Broadway,” in which choreographer Kate Swan hits a high note and the entire cast shines. And finally, the bad-drag showstopper “Girl from
Texarkana” (performed by Stephen Cabral) had the audience slapping their thighs.
Wings Theatre, 154 Christopher St. Through May 27. Performances at 8 p.m. 212-627-2961.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, May 26, 2006.