Barn Looks at The Full Monty PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 02 July 2009 11:58

In 1997, a British movie about six out of work men in Sheffield, England acquainted Americans with the term, “The Full Monty.” Three years later, it became a Broadway musical, shifted location to Buffalo, N.Y., kept the unemployed steelworkers and retained the premise — job loss can lead men to unusual occupations, if only for one night.

The musical “Full Monty” played 700 performances in New York City and still is extremely popular with regional theaters and community groups which have the manpower — and the electrical power — to pull it off (definitely pun intended).

The Barn Theatre is taking another look at “The Full Monty,” which was a hit for the Augusta, Mich., playhouse in its 2005 season. Two of the ’05 cast members — Eric Parker and Iris Lieberman — are repeating their roles in the show which opened a two-week run Tuesday evening. The “new” cast is up to the challenge, including an apprentice called at the last minute to take over a leading role.

the full monty at the barn theatrePatrick Hunter plays Dave Bukatinsky, an overweight worker and best friend of leading player Jerry Lukowski (Parker), filling in for former company member Eric Petersen who was called to Broadway to take over a role in the hit musical “Shrek.” Despite having only five days notice and being rather too young and not really heavy enough for a character obsessessed with his paunch, Hunter delivers a remarkably solid and believable performance, both dramatically and vocally.

Parker, a longtime Barn favorite, is equally compelling as the angry divorced dad who is desperate for money in order to retain a connection with his young son. Seeing the popularity of the Chippendale show touring Buffalo, Jerry comes up with the idea of disrobing for an audience to make some quick cash.

To organize a group, he enlists other laid off mill workers. First an unwilling Dave and a suicidal Malcolm MacGregor (Aaron Fried), then former supervisor Harold Nichols (Gregg Rehrig), as a dance teacher. Auditions to fill remaining slots are hilarious and result in adding  Noah (Horse) T. Simmons (Stanley White) and Ethan Girard (Alex Kip) whose “qualifications” for the job leave the auditioners speechless.

With Jerry’s young son Nathan (an adorable Jacob Ragotzy) organizing the event and old vaudevillian Jeanette Burmeister (Lieberman) at the piano, the Heavy Metal show lurches to its eventual performance. Along the way, however, Jerry is forced to promise potential ticket buyers “the full monty” (everything off) in order to promote sales.

In addition to the riotous finale “Let It Go,” there are two guaranteed showstopping numbers in “The Full Monty,” Jeanette’s “Showbiz Number” and Horse’s “Big Black Man.” Here they do not disappoint, even though choreography for the latter, as for “Michael Jordan’s Ball” and the finale are rather flat and repetitious.

The women — wives, ex-wives, girlfriends and interested spectators — are handled well by Penelope Alex (in her 100th production at The Barn), Brooke Evans, Jenna Petardi, Estelle Schneider, Katie Mack and Stephanie C. Forshee. The declaration of female equality “It’s A Woman’s World,” definitely strikes home.

The pop/rock score and lyrics by David Yazbek set the up tempo tone from the opening chords and the book by Terrence McNally touches on a multitude of topics including unemployment, parenthood, self-awareness, relationships and friendship.

The set, adapted from the original design, seems unwieldy and unnecessarily noisy his time around, with scene changes less than sharply executed. Possibly the pace will escalate as performances continue, cutting down the opening night three-hour running time.

“The Full Monty” plays through July 12. Shows at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 6 and 9 p.m. Saturday and 5 p.m. Sunday at the theater on M-62 in Augusta, Mich. Tickets are $29. For reservations and information: (269) 731-4121.

Last Updated on Saturday, 16 April 2011 02:39

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