Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Full Monty"

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entire contents copyright 2011 by Tony Annicone

"The Full Monty

by Tony Annicone

The third show of Turtle Lane's 30 season is the smash musical hit from 2000, "The Full Monty" which is based on the 1997 Oscar-nominated film. With a book by Tony Award winner Terrance McNally ("Ragtime" and "Kiss of the Spider Woman") and music and lyrics by pop composer David Yazbek ("Dirty Rotten Scoundrel''), the show changes locale from England in the movie to Buffalo, NY and is the raucous, heartfelt story of six unemployed steelworkers who go to great lengths to make some cash and help out a friend in trouble who might lose joint custody of his son. When a local male strip show whose dancers venture down to G-strings, is a hit with the local women, the cash-strapped factory workers figure they can really cash in if they go "the full Monty." The buddies, desperate for self-respect, must overcome their fears, their nerves, and their clothes for a shot at success. Director James Tallach casts this show beautifully while Kaley Sullivan as musical director brings out the best in her vocalists and orchestra as does choreographer Donald Gregorio with his high energy dances and inventive choreography. Throw in wonderful colorful costumes by Richard Itczak and topnotch set design by Erik Diaz and you have the ingredients of comic and poignant moments to create a sensational musical treat for their audience.

James' wonderful blocking and keen eye for comedy keeps the show fast paced. There are many comic moments in the show which are hilarious but his prowess shines through in obtaining the crowd's tears in the touching moments of this show. This ingredient gives the script the hidden strength it needs. James is not only a fabulous director but is a terrific actor, too, having played the role of Dave twice before. Kaley makes this jazzy pop score soar with her orchestra while playing lead keyboards. Some of the numbers sound like Sondheim while the gorgeous ballads are like Gershwin. Donald's male dance numbers range from striptease in "Let It Go" to athletic basketball type training in "Michael Jordan's Ball" to a Latin dance, Cha cha in "Life with Harold'' to the soul dance in "Big Black Man" while the women's dances include "It's a Woman's World" where they use the men's bathroom with Collette Gagnon as Estelle, a brunette bimbo peeing in the urinal which is a hoot and "The Goods' where they check out the men's assets while making disparaging comments on their goods. Show stopping numbers include "Big Ass Rock", "Big Black Man", "Life with Harold", "Jeanette's Showbiz Number" and the final "Full Monty" strip in "Let It Go". The Broadway style lighting design is by Matt Guminski while Harry Rothman is the stage manager who keeps things running smoothly all night long.

. The excellent male lead of this show is James Casey as Jerry Lukowski. His high tenor voice soars off the charts. James as Jerry leads the men in the Sondheimesque song "Scrap" at the Union meeting where the men feel worthless having lost their jobs and in the song "Man" Jerry proclaims he is a man's man. The Marlboro theme is part of this song which shows off James' rock voice. However he shows off the tender side of Jerry when he deals with the agony of possibly losing joint custody of his son in a moving ballad called "Breeze Off the River'' which moves the audience to tears at its poignancy. James portrays the tougher side with the guys with his thuggish behavior and gets them to dance in "Michael Jordan's Ball" at the end of the first act. But it is through his son that Jerry becomes a great father when he finally sees something through from start to finish for the first time in his life after the boy gives him a kick in the ass to grow up. Tim Lawton plays Jerry's best friend, the overweight Dave Bukatinsky. He shows off his tenor voice in this role with James in "Man", in "Big Ass Rock" which is a hilarious song about different ways to commit suicide (with James Fitzpatrick singing "I've Got a Friend section) as well as the gorgeous duet about his wife called "You Rule My World". Tim has great comic timing in the role of the underdog who the crowd roots for winning many laughs when he holds up a g-string, when he smokes as he and Jerry jog and when he wraps himself in saran wrap in the bathroom. Although Tim is very funny, the confrontation scene with Jerry shows his dramatic side when he finally stands up to Jerry calling him a "fat bastard. I last reviewed Tim as Simon Stride in "Jekyl and Hyde" last October. Jerry's ex-wife Pam is beautifully played by Lee Carter Browne, a pretty red head, who shows her empathy for Jerry's plight as she gives him the tough love stance during the show. Lee's voice can be heard in "The Goods". Dave's wife, Georgie, is played by sexy brunette, Brittany Rolfs. She gets to show off her strong voice in "It's a Woman's World", "The Goods" and in the gorgeous ballad "You Rule My World" which tugs at your heart strings. She delivers pathos in spades with her heartfelt performance. I last reviewed Brittany in "Buddy Holly" as Maria Elena. Jerry and Pam's son, Nathan is wonderfully played by Andrew Cekala who is only 10 years old. This boy captures the character's spirit and wiseness beyond his years while urging his father to grow up at last. Andrew shows strong acting prowess at a young age.

James Fitzpatrick is terrific as Malcolm, this socially inept, mama's boy who tries to kill himself by leaving his car running while he is still inside it. His klutzy moves as the awkward Malcolm as he tries to fit in with the other guys is hilarious but he delivers the songs with his strong tenor voice. James uses his powerful voice in the group numbers and especially in the gut wrenching "You Walk with Me'' a poignant duet at his mother's funeral, sung with Ethan Girard, who becomes his male lover. James delivers a marvelous, heart rending performance, making you shed a multitude of tears in the funeral sequence. Ethan is played wonderfully by Rob Klimeczko. He plays an air-head who claims he can't sing or dance but drops his pants to show off his goods to the guys so they will cast him in their dance troupe and also tries to imitate Donald O'Connor in "Singing in the Rain" by continually running into walls, knocking himself unconscious. However, Rob is a topnotch singer and dancer in real life and gets to show off his strong tenor voice in the group numbers and especially in "You Walk with Me", the duet with James. They also have comic bits about loving "The Sound of Music" movie, wearing the same underwear and finally falling in love with each other while wearing G-strings. Steven Key is a hoot as Horse who stops the show with "Big Black Man" while doing the jerk, the monkey, the mashed potato and other crazy dances with his bum hip. His powerhouse baritone voice fills the theater and his comic one liners obtain much laughter from the audience as he portrays this loveable, curmudgeon.Bill Toll plays Harold whose wife, Vicki is a dance teacher. He becomes a member of their troupe trying to teach them how to dance while trying to hide the fact that he lost his job from his wife. shows off his wonderful tenor voice in "You Rule My World" duet with Tim while Tracey Nygard, a gorgeous redhead plays Vicki, showing off her dancing prowess and her amazing soprano voice in "Life With Harold", a Latin-salsa type song as well as the reprise of "You Rule My World" which elicits many tears.(Eric Wefald plays Harold at alternating shows.) The show starts off with a bang when Keno, the Chippendale type professional dancer enters the stage. He is played by Tim Korecky who stands out with his dancing prowess and delivery of his comic lines. He is a topnotch dancer who isn't afraid to strut his stuff in a G-string. has a funny scene with Jerry and Dave in the bathroom where he belts Jerry in the mouth. The biggest scene stealer in this show is Annita Brockney as Jeanette who character is reminiscent of Estelle Getty as Sophia Petrillo from "Golden Girls". Her caustic barbs and funniest one-liners in this show are outstanding including the one that as a man "If you want to be in show business you should be spade first". Jeanette is the pianist who tries to help the guys get into dancing shape. Annita stops this show at the beginning of the second act with her "Jeanette's Showbiz Number" singing things could be better around here, leaving the audience in stitches. She mentions Arthur Godfrey tried to put the moves on her years ago and drops several famous names during the show including Lawrence Welk and Eddie Fisher. Annita gets glammed up for the strip show as she announces it in the final scene. Joanne Powers plays Jeannette at alternating performances. So for a high energy musical that will keep you entertained all evening long, be sure to catch "The Full Monty" at Turtle Lane.

"The Full Monty" (25 February - 20 March)
@ 283 mELROSE sTREET, newton ma

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide