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BWW Review: Skylight's THE FULL MONTY is a Cheeky Delight

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Skylight's first show in 18 months runs through October 17th

BWW Review: Skylight's THE FULL MONTY is a Cheeky Delight

After the past 18 months, Skylight's The Full Monty is an invitation to let it go, let it go. No, not like Frozen. Rather like a troupe of jobless steel workers who decide let go of their inhibitions in a one-night-only male burlesque extravaganza.

The Full Monty made its Broadway debut in 2000. In case you're fresh to the story, here's the skinny: A steel plant shuts down in Buffalo, New York, leaving the workers strapped for cash. The stakes are high. Our protagonist Jerry is one more slip-up away from losing custody of his son. The endearing Dave is going through a serious rough patch in both his marriage and self-confidence. The sweetly awkward Malcolm is in deep suicidal depression. And that's just some of the plot points.

But The Full Monty succeeds in turning all this darkness on its head. After stumbling into the local male strip club and doing the quick math on how much money they could make by baring it all, Jerry and Dave hatch a plan. They'll pull together a ragtag group of the unemployed, do a little dance, strip a little strip, and walk away with a cool fifty thou'.

The fellas in the cast are mighty stellar. As the hunky Jerry, Dan DeLuca carries the gang with ample charisma, though perhaps falls prey to the trap wherein the main character winds up being the least interesting. As Jerry's son, young Abram Nelson lends some tenderness and reminds us what's at stake for Jerry.

One of the most heartfelt moments comes from characters Malcolm and Ethan (Joey Chelius and Jordan Arrasmith, respectively), who bond over The Sound of Music, nearly share a kiss, and finally hold hands during the moving "You Walk With Me." Chelius possesses one of the loveliest voices of the bunch, and through all of Arrasmith's faux clumsiness, there was no denying the anticipation for him to finally land the backflip he teases all show long. Simply put: gotta love these two.

Then there's Dave, the big lug who's super down on himself. Nathan Marinan gives us a believable, relatable guy whose body image issues get in the way of his life, happiness, and feelings about stripping. Typically a theme targeted at women, it's a refreshing reminder that questions of body confidence are universal. Beyond inspiring a want to give Dave a hug and tell him he's handsome, Marinan also sells the part with rich vocals.

Rounding out the crew, first comes the swagger-for-days Lee Palmer as "Horse." Boy, can he sing and boy, can he move -- all smooth as can be. Palmer is a definite instance of a smaller part stealing the show (and there's more where that came from). Last but not least, Zach Thomas Woods brings fun, slightly-frantic energy as the ex-boss with a Masters degree, Harold Nichols. Put 'em all together and you've got a bunch of unlikely friends who learn that, as Artistic Director Michael Unger puts it, "they cannot be their best selves without coming together for a common purpose."

From the onset, this show feels geared toward ladies' nights and bachelorettes. It opens with a spicy strip tease by Grant Latus, all the way down to shiny metallic boxer briefs, while the delightfully boisterous Karen Estrada and company hoot and holler. This is the kind of show where it's best if you join the world of the play -- that is, hoot and holler yourself. Don't resist it!

And you'll especially want to holler for the women of The Full Monty, as there are a number of showstoppers and scene-stealers among them. The aforementioned Estrada is one who always brings her 'A' game in humor, heart, and musical chops, proving once again why she's such a local favorite. Then there are two standout supporting roles that really snagged some laughs: Jan Neuberger as Jeanette, the feisty rehearsal pianist, and Janet Metz as the colorful Vicki Nichols.

Neuberger is, quite simply, funny as can be. Her comedic instincts and delivery are practically unmatched among the ensemble, and her song which opens Act Two, "Jeanette's Showbiz Number," is a hoot. She sings about how "things could be better" as far as the fellas and their lack-of talent -- but it sure doesn't get much better than Neuberger 's Jeanette.

That is, until you consider Janet Metz. Now, I have to fangirl for a moment. In reviewing her credentials, you'll learn that Metz is the voice of the Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat opposite Donny Osmond -- the platinum recording. Basically, Metz is the voice of my childhood, and so I admit to being completely and utterly starstruck at this revelation. But I promise you the awe I felt at her presence is entirely earned. There is a palpable shift in the show's energy when Metz enters and gives us the rousing "Life with Harold." Her Vicki is so cute, her poise is incredible, and her voice remains deserving of every inch of awe felt by yours truly from age nine onward.

Gushing about the girls aside, the boys really bring it home with the finale "Let it Go." Although everyone in the theater was masked, you could tell there were grins from ear to ear hiding under each one. How could there not be?! The show builds to this moment. It takes big-time guts to bare your butt cheeks on stage, and these guys bare more than that. The choreography is fun (in fact, it made me wish there was even more dancing throughout), and the good vibes -- and a good laugh -- are just the palette cleanse we all need after the year-and-a-half we've had.


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From This Author Kelsey Lawler