Showing It All
Theater: 'The Full Monty' - Cynthia Werthamer
The word for the Rhinebeck’s Center for Performing Arts production of “The Full Monty” is “rollicking.”
Jerry Lukowski (Kurt Tallardy Jr.), one of many desperate, unemployed factory workers in Buffalo, comes up with a plan to make some money: set up a Chippendales-style strip show. Jerry entices Dave Bukatinsky (Thom Webb), his best friend, to hold tryouts, but first they must find someone to teach the men a dance routine. Jerry and Dave settle on Harold (Stefan Bolz), a suave supervisor at the plant who’s also been laid off but hasn’t told his wife Vicky (Cheryl DelVecchio), who is busy planning the couple’s next exotic vacation.
The tryout scenes brought the almost-sold-out house to a near frenzy. When Horse (Nick Butler) swaggers in to audition, he indicates the lack of PC attitudes in the play by breaking into song with “Big Black Man.” Suffice it to say that when Ethan Girard (Michael Torbet) showed his stuff, the audience laughed so loud that the next several lines are inaudible.
Accompanying the contenders on piano is Jeanette (Thomas Dammit); if the role wasn’t written to be played in drag, it should have been. (Not to mention this Jeanette has legs that put most women’s gams to shame.) She brings down the house with “Jeanette’s Show Biz Number,” in which she relates professional incidents in her past that have gone disastrously wrong—but, she belts, this production takes the (beef) cake for being bad.
Before the denouement, poignant as well as comical moments seize center stage, as when Jerry sings to his sleeping son (“Breeze Off the River”). Tallardy’s Jerry commands the stage with presence and timing, and his is far and away the easiest body on the eyes; Webb as Dave is a loveable sidekick whose belly is the butt of joke and song. Horse, and his bad hip, take the blues to a new level and bring a whole other meaning to break-dancing.
The musical, which won a Drama Desk Award after it was adapted from the 1997 British film, is produced by Johnny Dell and smartly directed and choreographed by Laurina Sepe Marder, with the lively backstage music led by musical director and keyboardist Liz Toleno. While the sets are a bit cumbersome and take some time to change between scenes, the cast shines during ensemble numbers and succeeds in bringing the audience along for the ride.
“The Full Monty” runs at the Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck through May 22. For tickets and information, call 845-876-3080 or go to www.centerforperformingarts.org.
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