BWW Reviews: Tri-Valley Rep Rips Off Their Clothes in THE FULL MONTY!
Bring out your roll of one dollar bills and head on over to Tri-Valley Repertory Theatre's hilariously raunchy presentation of The Full Monty. Directed by John Maio, The Full Monty is about six unemployed men performing a one night only stripper show and it's playing now through February 3 at the Bankhead Theatre.
Jerry Lukowski (Todd Carver) has just been laid off from his factory job along with his best friend Dave Bukatinski (played with hysterical comic effect by Marty Newton). When Jerry and Dave decide to go in through the back window of a Chip & Dales strip club to get Dave's wife Georgie (magnificently played by Julia Etzel), they find out what she and Jerry's ex-wife Pam (Sue Claire Jones) really think of them. Jerry, who owes Pam money for their son Nathan (an adorably funny and witty Max DeSantis), decides that the sculpted bods of the strippers are not what all these women really want and makes up his mind to perform onstage himself in order to earn the money to see his son.
On a jog to lose some extra poundage to prepare for the show, Jerry and Dave stop ex-security guard Malcolm MacGregor (Ryan Cowles) from committing suicide. Cowles is a hoot in "Big-Ass Rock" and then shows off his beautiful voice in "You Walk with Me."
After convincing Malcolm that becoming a stripper is the answers to his problems Jerry convinces best friend Dave and four other unemployed men (total of 6) to join in this one night only romp in a G-string to raise the money and reclaim their dignity.
Amongst the gang of not-so-typical strippers is old timer Noah "Horse" T. Simmons (a comically talented dancer played wonderfully by Laval-William Davis), an endearingly nervous Harold Nichols (Elmer Strasser), and side-splitting Ethan Girard played brilliantly by Daniel Quezada who early on at the stripper audition bared his backside to the audience who gasped, laughed, and cat-called with whoops and hollers at the surprise.
In fact there were many in the cast who bared their bellies, undressed to their undies, and showed us what it is to love who you are no matter what - including the hilarious Bob Stratton as Marty, Tony Gardner as Reg Willoughby, and Chip & Dales stripper Justin Hunt as Keno.
Belinda Maloney was outstanding as pianist Jeanette Burmesiter. Her laugh out loud voice was reminiscent of Roz from Pixar's Monsters Inc. and her comedic timing, energy and all around wit made her an amazing addition to the cast. She was a joy to watch.
Scenic design by Kelly Tighe was a mash of diagonal lines that cris-crossed the stage and during scene changes the set was a great looking focal point that drew the eye and it was the perfect backdrop for the scenes in the show.
Todd Carver, who played lead Jerry Lukowski, was off his game opening night, seeing to strain on the high notes during many of his songs. His touching number, "Breeze Off the River," was off-key, but heartfelt. Sue Claire Jones, who played Jerry's wife was fine but didn't make you feel for her problems as much as the part demanded.
The finale of the show was met with massive audience enthusiasm as our six leading men stripped down and showed us what they were made of - and the cast coming out into the aisles of the theatre made you feel like you were an audience member at the strip joint as you chanted along "Hey, hey! Watta say!? Buffalo men go all the way!" If you want to find out what made the entire audience give a standing ovation at the end of the show I guess you will have to attended The Full Monty and see if they bare it all!
Photo by James Miille