The sextet of laid-off upstate New York factory workers with plans to offer Buffalo gals a night of full-frontal fun are centerstage once more as 3-D Theatricals debuts its couldn’t-be-better revival of the 2000 Broadway hit musical The Full Monty.
With a can’t-miss book by four-time Tony winner Terrence McNally, a cast of true-to-life three-dimensional characters, a jazzy score by David Yazbek that recalls the early-’70s hits of Chicago, and sexy, hip-thrusting, pelvis-swiveling choreography, The Full Monty is contemporary musical theater at its most entertaining and risqué.
Allen Everman stars as out-of-work Jerry Lukowski, who could soon find himself minus shared custody of 12-year-old Nathan (Dante Marenco) if ex-wife Pam (Lauren Decierdo), now happily partnered with a dutifully-employed live-in lover named Teddy (Eric Ferguson), doesn’t get paid the months of alimony he owes her.
Matthew Downs costars as Jerry’s hefty best bud Dave Bukatinski, frustrated by days spent doing housewively chores and by nights spent incapable of performing husbandly duties to his loving but increasingly frustrated wife Georgie (Jeanette Dawson).
Unfortunately for the boys, the working women of Buffalo seem ill-inclined to shell out their hard-earned bucks to see men nowhere near as built as the strippers they’re used to, which is why our six heroes decide there’s only one sure way to insure a full house … and that is to give their audience The Full Monty.
Joining Jerry and Dave in their adventures in bumping and grinding are momma’s boy Malcolm MacGregor (Tyler Miclean); Ethan Girard (Nick Waaland), embarrassingly inept at replicating Donald O’Connor’s Singing In The Rain wall-climbing trick; Noah “Horse” T. Simmons (Rovin Jay), a “big black man” whose “break-dancing days are probably over”; and Harold Nichols (David Engel), an out-of-work mill supervisor who’s been hiding his six months of joblessness from his luxury-loving wife Vicki (Janna Cardia).
There’s also male stripper Buddy “Keno” Walsh, (Justin Berti) whose pelvis-thrusting, buns-baring solo at the local strip club inspires Jerry to recruit the men henceforth known as Hot Metal, the better to put on their one-night-only strip show and pocket a hefty $50,000 take.
Completing the cast of principal players is rehearsal pianist Jeanette Burmeister (Candi Milo) a bawdy retiree who brings with her plenty of sass along with story upon story to tell of her checkered showbiz past.
Prudes should be warned that, despite the presence of twelve-year-old Nathan, The Full Monty’s R-rated language and thong-sporting male strippers make it appropriate for open-minded adults only.
At the same time, it’s hard to imagine a musical with stronger family values than TFM—if by family values you mean unconditional love, mutual support in times of trouble, and diversity celebrated rather than condemned.
T.J. Dawson directs with accustomed expertise, and with four-time Tony winner McNally giving The Full Monty far more than your average everyday musical comedy book, particular attention has been paid to ensuring finely honed dramatic/comedic performances from all concerned.
Everman is a pitch-perfect Jerry, digging deep into the divorced single dad’s frustrations and hopes and fatherly love.
Downs is not only a terrific sidekick but gives plus-size Dave a whole heap of sex appeal that adds credibility to his relationship with a never-been-better Dawson.
Engel’s elegant but insecure Harold, Jay’s still feisty Horse, Miclean’s sweetly nerdy Malcolm, and Waaland’s adorably goofy Ethan are all equally fabulous, and speaking of fabulosity, Milo reinvents Jeanette with scene-hijacking pizzazz.
Cardia’s ball-of-fire Vicki ignites the stage, Marenco wins hearts as a son every parent would be proud to call their own, and Berti makes for the most sculpted hunk of thong-clad masculinity that any crown of horny women (or gay men) could wish to see in a g-string.
Decierdo takes a “throw-away” part and makes it a keeper opposite fellow working gals Candice Rochelle Berge (Delores), Natalie Iscovich (Joanie), Gabrielle Jackson (Estelle), and dance captain Bree Murphy (Susan), with special snaps to Jackson’s fiery turn as Buffalo’s resident sexpot (and to 3-D for diversity in casting).
As for the men currently or formerly in their lives, Ferguson, Jaycob Hunter (Marty), Robert Johnson (Gary), Corky Loupé (Police Sergeant, Minister, Tony Giordano), and James Stellos (Reg) all do topnotch work.
Leslie Stevens has choreographed one bang-up showstopper after another, backed by The Full Monty’s Broadway-caliber band (provided by Los Angeles Musicians’ Collective) under musical director Corey Hirsch’s expert baton.
Network’s appropriately industrial set has been vividly lit by Jean-Yves Tessier, with additional production design kudos due Julie Ferrin and Noelle Sammour (sound design), Peter Herman (wig design), Gretchen Morales and Melanie Cavness (properties design), and Jessica Kuhns and Alexandra Johnson (wardrobe coordinators), all of whom give The Full Monty an all-around terrific look.
Ryan Ruge is assistant director. Terry Hanrahan is production stage manager, David Jordan Nestor is assistant stage manager and Jene Roach is technical director. Murphy is dance captain and Iscovich is dance supervisor.
Plummer Auditorium, 210 E. Chapman Ave., Fullerton.
(Reviewed at Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center)
April 17, 2106
Photos: Isaac James Creative