note: entire contents copyright 2011 by Sheila Barth
At first glance, Turtle Lane Playhouse is a white clapboarded house located in a residential area. Inside, the atmosphere changes instantly, to a bustling cabaret theater. The entrance hallway is adorned with posters and photos of classic shows, and theatergoers gather in the bar and small restaurant located on the left, or proceed into the cabaret-style theater, with its small, round tables.
As “The Full Monty” opens, a bevy of screaming females stream the main aisle, as a male stripper on stage struts his stuff, and female patrons of the Buffalo Bill’s club eagerly wave their money, panting and shrieking at the male Adonis.
Thus begins three hours of interactive fun at the playhouse, where six unemployed and least likely male strippers bare all in a final, well-staged and strategically lit number (thanks to Matthew Guminski) that is non-revealing, non-embarrassing, yet effective.
Director James Tallach and choreographer Donald Gregorio, along with music director Kaley Sullivan, have added their own touches in this production, generating excitement and fun, especially among young women in the audience. The show is based on the multi-award winning movie about unemployed men whose factory jobs closed, leaving them with few prospects, save security positions at the local Wal-Mart or mall, or equally low-paying jobs. This desperate group bands together to produce a one-night stand as Everyman male strippers, willing to bare all, to raise money and their morales.
But what a motley group they are: Jerry, the high school hero, who’s divorced, easily attracts women, but has a 12-year-old son, Nathan, he’s desperately trying to hold on to; Jerry’s devotedly married sidekick and best friend, Dave, who is heavyset and embarrassed about it; Malcolm, the morose, suicidal factory nighttime security guard who lives with his demanding, elderly mother; Ethan, a young wacko who likes to slam into walls, and has one outstanding attribute; Harold, the men’s former boss-supervisor, whose wife loves to spend money; and Horse, an older black man, who has all the right moves -when he can, without his arthritis kicking up - and the allegedly stereotypical attributes.
The night I went, there were cast changes, with understudy Lee Carter Browne, (who normally plays Jerry’s wife, Pam), replacing star Tracy Nygard as Harold’s wife, Vickie. Bill Toll and Eric Wefald, (whom I saw), are double-cast as Harold, and JoAnne Powers and Annita Brockney (whom I also saw) are double-cast as Jeanette, the blowsy piano player.
James Casey as Jerry and Timothy Lawton as Dave deliver terrific performances, as does S. Michael Key as Horse. And young star Andrew Cekala shines brightly as Jerry’s 12-year-old son, Nathan.
Besides the big buildup finale number, “Let it Go,” Casey, Lawton and Eric Wefald, (who is double-cast as Malcolm), are hysterical in “Big-Ass Rock;” and the guys deliver fancy footwork in their routine, “Michael Jordan’s Ball”.
Turtle Lane’s production of “The Full Monty” is filled with fun, on- and off-stage.
My only suggestion is the set’s background should change, rotate, or be covered at times. The dingy, rusted factory walls are the same at Buffalo Bill’s; in Harold’s resplendent home, with its about-to-be-possessed furnishings; Jerry’s and Dave’s apartments; the cemetery during Malcolm’s mother’s funeral; and at their big show. This show has been selling out, so be sure to call ahead for tickets.
BOX INFO: Two-act musical comedy, book by Terrence McNally, music and lyrics by David Yazbek, presented by Turtle Lane Playhouse, 283 Melrose St., Auburndale. Appearing March 10,11,12,17,18,19, at 8 p.m.; March 13,20, at 2 p.m. For more information, including tickets, call 617-244-0169.