Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Full Monty"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2007 by Tony Annicone

"The Full Monty"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The current show at Company Theatre 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 Terrence McNally ("Ragtime" & "Kiss of the Spiderwoman") and music and lyrics by pop composer David Yazbek ("Dirty Rotten Scoundrels"), the show changes the 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. Directors Zoe Bradford and Jordie Saucerman cast this show beautifully while Michael Joseph as musical director brings out the best in his vocalists and orchestra as does Sally Ashton Forrest does with her high energy dancers in her inventive choreography. Throw in wonderful, colorful costumes by Jen Spagnone and topnotch, intricate lighting design by Matt Guminski and you have the perfect ingredients of comic and poignant moments to create a sensational musical treat for their very appreciative audience.

Zoe's set design lends itself for the fast pace changes the show needs and Jordie builds them expertly from scratch. They block their talented cast wonderfully no matter how many people are in the scene. There are many comic moments in the show which are hilarious but Zoe and Jordie's prowess is in obtaining the crowd's tears in the poignant moments that give this script the hidden strength it needs. Michael makes the touching ballads and the jazzy pop score soar with his orchestra and the vocalists. Sally's dance numbers range from the striptease in "Let It Go" to athletic basketball type training in "Michael Jordan's Ball" to a Latin dance in "Life With Harold" to the soul dance in "Big Black Man". Some of the women's dances include "It's a Woman's World" where they use the men's bathroom and "The Goods" where they check out the men's assets. Show stopping numbers include "Big-Ass Rock", "Big Black Man" and the final "Full Monty" strip in "Let It Go".

The excellent male lead of this show is Michael J. Foley as Jerry Lukowski who's high tenor voice soars off the charts. (Michael was also dynamite as the Beast in Company Theatre's "Beauty and the Beast".) Jerry is a man's man as he explains in the song "Man" with the Marlboro theme as part of the song which shows off Michael's tenor rock voice. However he shows the tender side of his character when he deals with the agony of the possibility of losing joint custody of his son. Michael's moving ballad about his son called "Breeze Off the River" moves the audience to tears with its poignancy. He also portrays Jerry's tougher side with the guys but it is through his son who finally gives him a kick in the ass to grow up and become a great father by following through on something for the first time in his life. James Tallach plays Jerry's best friend, the overweight Dave Bukatinsky. His comic timing is fabulous in this role of the underdog guy who the crowd roots. James also possesses an excellent tenor which is heard with Michael's in "Man", in "Big-Ass Rock" which is an hilarious song about different ways to commit suicide, as well as in the gorgeous duet about his wife called "You Rule My World". Jerry's ex-wife, Pam is played beautifully by pretty brunette, Melissa Prusinski who adds depth to the character by not making her a one-note bitch. Her empathy for Jerry's plight can be seen as she gives him the tough love stance during the show. Melissa's belting voice can be heard in "A Woman's World" and "The Goods". Dave's wife, Georgie, is played by sexy redheaded, Christine Maus. 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. Jerry and Pam's son, Nathan is fantastically played by Kevin Patrick Weldon who is only 12 years old. This young boy needs no microphone to make his voice heard delivering his lines like an old pro at an early age. Kevin captures the boy's spirit and wiseness beyond his years while urging his father to grow up at last. (Jack Duff plays this role at alternating shows.)

Another excellent performance is given by Christian Potts as the good looking, air-head, Ethan Girard. Ethan proclaims he can't sing or dance but drops his pants show off the goods the ladies want to see and is hired on the spot. Ethan continually tries to run up the walls, trying to imitate Donald O'Connor in "Singing in the Rain", which always leaves him unconscious on the floor. However Christian is a wonderful singer and dancer in real life and gets to show off his strong tenor voice in group numbers and especially in the tear jerking ballad "You Walk With Me" a duet with Christopher Landis who plays Malcolm, the mama's boy who tries to kill himself by leaving his car running with him in it. He is hilarious as this klutzy guy who tries to fit in with the others and he shows the pathos his character feels in "You Walk With Me" while showing off his beautiful tenor voice. 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 powerful baritone voice fills the theater and his comic one liners gain much laughter as he portrays this loveable, curmudgeon. David Fougere plays Harold who's wife, Vicki is a dance teacher. he becomes a member of their troupe trying to teach them how to dance while trying to hide that he lost his job from his wife. David shows off his wonderful tenor voice in "You Rule My World" duet with James while Paula Markowicz plays Vicki, showing off her dancing prowess and her awesome soprano voice in "Life With Harold'' as well as in the reprise of "You Rule My World". The Chippendale's type dancer is played by Ian Richardson who is a topnotch dancer and isn't afraid to strut his stuff in a G-string. The pianist, Jeanette, who tries to help the guys get into dancing shape is played at this performance by Deb Poppel and at alternating ones by Julianna Dennis. Her song opens the second act and is called "Jeanette's Showbiz Number". So for an entertaining evening of fun, be sure to catch "The Full Monty" at the Company Theatre.

"The Full Monty" (16 March - 7 April)
THE COMPANY THEATRE
30 Accord Park Drive, NORWELL MA
1 (781) 871-2787

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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