BWW Reviews: Jamie Bradley Rules the Stage in Seacoast Rep's THE FULL MONTY
Six very talented men "let it go" and open the Seacoast Repertory Theatre's summer season with a mega-hit musical production that is a "must see" on your summerstock list of shows to experience.
With a book by Terrence McNally and score by David Yazbek, The Full Monty is the "Americanized" musical stage adaptation of the 1997 British film of the same name. Six unemployed Buffalo steelworkers decide to create their own strip act (and profit) at a local bar after seeing the ladies' enthusiasm for some touring strippers. The eclectic group of men form a comical camaraderie as they work through fears, self-consciousness and self-definition, overcoming their inner demons and finding strength to go "the full monty" (completely naked).
There are several standout performances including a hilarious Tommy Labanaris (Malcolm) who sings a tearful show stopping number called, "You Walk With Me" with effortless vocals that soar like an angel. A tender moment of recognition between Labanaris and Andrew Bridges (Ethan) is incredibly powerful. Bridges does a great job at some funny physical comedy. Chris Bradley (Harold) and Jeremy Abram (Horse), although too young for their roles, comedically take command of the stage. Bradley's enthusiasm is infectious.
David Demato (Jerry) is, in a word, perfect. A triple threat professional, Demato is the glue that holds the show together. Ashley Kelley (Georgie) is a powerhouse actress with Broadway vocals. Christine Dulong (Vicki), a Seacoast favorite, shares some great moments with Bradley. Dulong is a strong stage presence with colorful vocals. Jen Fogarty (Estelle) takes stage with every scene she is in. Liam R. Blanchard (Nathan) naturally and professionally holds his own with the adult company.
There is no question that Jamie Bradley (Dave) gives a flawless performance- vocally, emotionally and physically. Bradley is so natural in his acting, providing a subtle comedic element that touches you deep within. The role of "Dave" role requires someone who is large in measurement and of heart, willing to expose himself inside and out as the character and as a person. Bradley brilliantly embraces that challenge and succeeds on all levels.
Rebecca Rudolf (Pam) does a good job, although her acting with Demato appears unnatural at times. Although not an actor, Steven Riley's (Keno) attributes are clearly defined. Meredith Freeman-Caple (Jeanette) does a good job but seems to "act" her character rather than just "be". Freeman-Caple lacks an honest connection with the six men and never takes her character to its fullest potential.
Craig J. Faulkner (Director) and Labanaris (Assistant Director) provide a solid foundation for the show, giving their actors strong characters with well-defined acting arcs. Willaim Asher (Musical Director) creates vocal magic with his singers. A pitchy "You Rule My World" the only vocal issue. Johnnie Pirroni's choreography is playfully fun, "Michael Jordan's Ball" a highlight. Jeannette's Showbiz Number (and Act Two opener), however, was boring and left Freeman-Caple with little to do.
The six men, with the full support of the entire cast and production team, give the audience the much anticipated "full monty"- although you don't need to see 'the goods' to be affected by these six men. The lead-up to their reveal is truly the best part of "Let It Go" because it becomes less about removing clothes and more about letting go of judgement and believing in yourself.
A simple, workable set is designed by Eric D. Diaz with a "traveling walls" concept that has been seen and used before at the Rep. Michael Clark Wonson (Lighting Designer) does an excellent design and execution of the lights. Unfortunately, the follow spot operator was a distraction instead of an enhancement and would often miss the mark. Costumes by Tammy Hannon were appropriate (even with some rip-away malfunctions and a scary design for the character of Jeanette).
The six member band, led by Faulkner, is excellent. A fantastic blend by sound designer, Rachel Neubauer. I particularly loved the different sound coloring used for the vocals and dialogue.
You may think this show is for a woman's world, but men will love it too- evident by the spontaneous standing ovation. If you're looking for a professional, fun-filled show to start your summer off right, The Full Monty is the perfect choice! With The Full Monty, Faulkner and Asher set a tough standard to match with the upcoming Chicago, opening July 20.
The Full Monty continues through July 8 at the Seacoast Repertory Theatre, 125 Bow St. in Portsmouth, NH. For tickets and more information call (603) 433-4472 or go to www.seacoastrep.org.