Theatre Mirror Reviews-"The Full Monty"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

entire contents copyright 2014 by Tony Annicone

"The Full Monty"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Company Theatre's winter show is the smash hit musical, "The Full Monty". With a book by Tony Award winning author, Terrence McNally and music and lyrics by pop composer David Yazbek, "The Full Monty" is based on the record breaking 1997 Academy Award nominated hit film with the same name. McNally changes the locale from England to Buffalo, NY in the stage show and it's the raucous, heartfelt story of six unemployed steel workers who go to great lengths to make some cash and help out a friend who might lose joint custody of his young 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. Directors Zoe Bradford and Michael Hammond cast their performers wonderfully in their roles, creating a splendid high energy extravaganza to open their new season.

Zoe and Michael's comic moments are hilarious but it is in the obtaining the tears of the audience in the poignant moments that gives the script the hidden strength it needs. Michael also choreographs the show. His dance numbers range from the striptease in "Let It Go" to the to the athletic type training in "Michael Jordan's Ball" to a Latin dance in "Life With Harold" to the soul dance in "Big Black Man". The women's dance number include "It's a Woman's World" where they use the men's bathroom and in "The Goods" where they check out the men's assets. The choral harmony by the men in this number is beautiful.  Music director Michael Joseph conducts a splendid 12 piece orchestra, they make this jazzy pop soar with the vocalists, too. Show stopping numbers include "Big Black Man", "Jeanette's Show Biz Number", the poignant "You Walk With Me" and the finale "Let It Go". The dynamic male lead of this show is Paul Brennan III as Jerry Lukowski. Paul leads the men in the opening number "Scrap" where they are angry about being unemployed, proclaims he is a real man in "Man" which has the Marlboro theme in it. This is sung after he is belted in the eye by the professional Chippendales type stripper. These songs display Paul's tenor rock voice. However he displays his tender side when he doesn't want to relinquish joint custody of his son. Paul's emotional ballad shows off his mellower tones in "Breeze Off the River" which moves the audience to tears. His acting prowess shines in his thuggish behavior through the show. However it is his son who forces him to grow up and see things through for the first time in his life. Bravo on a job well done.

Francis Sheehan plays Jerry's best friend the overweight, Dave Bukatinsky. He displays his strong acting ability as this underdog who the crowd roots for. Francis' strong voice is heard in "Scrap", "Man" with Paul and in "Big Ass Rock" which is a funny suicide stopping song about different ways to kill yourself. He also sings the gorgeous duet "You Rule My World" about his love for his wife. He does an excellent job as does Matt Maggio as Malcolm, the mama's boy who tries to kill himself by leaving his car running with him in it. He has one of the best tenor voices in the show especially in the tear jerking "You Walk With Me" at his mother's funeral in the second act. Matt is also very humorous as the klutzy guy who tries to fit in with the others. Also very funny is Sam Patch as Ethan Girard who says he can't sing or dance but continually runs into walls trying to imitate Donald O'Connor in "Singing in the Rain." Almost rejected by the others he drops his pants to show them ''his goods" and is hired immediately. However Sam is a topnotch singer and dancer who displays his voice in the group numbers and in "You Walk With Me" when Malcolm and Ethan fall in love with each other. Maurice Maxie stops the show as Horse with his "Big Black Man" song with his bum hip while doing the jerk, the monkey, the mashed potato. His powerful baritone voice rocks the theater in this number and he steals many a scene as this comic curmudgeon. Another scene stealer is Juliana Dennis as Jeanette, the pianist who tries to whip the guys into stripping shape with her music. Her sarcastic and caustic barbs are hilarious as she hit pay dirt with all her one liners. Juliana is also a hoot when she climbs on top of the piano during her "Jeanette's Show Biz Number" where she proclaims things could be better round here. She is also a riot in her white tuxedo before the big strip finale. Brava.

Geoff Campbell portrays Harold who was the foreman of the steel plant. He is married to Vicki who doesn't want her to know that he lost his job. Harold becomes a member of their troupe when they run into him at the local dance studio. Geoff shows off his strong baritone voice in the group numbers and in the powerful duet with Francis near the end of Act 1, "You Rule My World". Janet Ferreri displays her dancing prowess and voice in "Life With Harold" and in "You Rule My World" reprise with Andrea Osborne plays Dave's wife, Georgie. She runs the professional stripclub. Andrea is hilarious in the opening sequence and handles the transition from funny, upbeat wife in Act 1 to caring and accepting wife by the close of the show as does Janet in her role, too. Nicole Mayne Warner plays the role of Jerry's hard as nails ex-wife, Pam who wants him to get a job and pay child support. It's great to have Nicole and her husband, Michael back in MA again. 11 year old Jackson Robert Parker who recently played Gavoroche in "Les Miserables" at Company Theatre, shines as Nathan. His line delivery and facial expressions are superb and he is always involved with the action of the scenes.

"The Full Monty" (4 - 8 February)
@ 30 Accord Park Drive, NORWELL MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide