Review: The Fully Monty by Michael Stevens
If you’ve ever seen The Full Monty, all you need to know is that the Charlotte Players’ version of this raucous musical romp is VERY well done and worth another look. If you’ve never seen it, then, by all means, get your tickets quickly before this comedic gem has slipped into local community theater lore.
It has been a while since the Charlotte Players have mounted a musical with a cast this big, and perhaps never have they trotted out a cast this young. What they lack in experience, they certainly make up for in unbridled enthusiasm and talent. Artistic Director Barry Ayers (who’s played in several versions of The Full Monty himself) cast the perfect motley crew of six unemployed steel workers looking to create their own Chippendale-style strip show. Anchored by Calvin Rotering and David Watson, and rounded out by Nadal Zirour, Kane Keosaian, Brandon Michaels and Gene Callan, this bunch nails some nifty choreography and boisterous production numbers to keep the energy up and the story moving. In particular, Watson and Zirour shine in solos, while Michaels has the audience cheering every step in his highlight dance number. Jerome Lewis makes the most of a cameo as the steel union boss in his comedic audition to become part of the “Hot Metal” strip show.
Female foils to the guys are also strong: Debbie Brandal and Jordan Foster portray wives of best buddies Jerry Lukowski and Dave Bukatinsky (Rotering and Watson). They lead a posse of women who find the neophyte male strippers sadly lacking in the caustic critique “The Goods”. Rachel Dalangauskas delivers a big first act payoff as she solos in “Life with Harold”. Melissa Cripps generates lots of laughs in her portrayal of the show-biz hardened Jeanette, and kills with her big number in the second act.
Scenic designer Chris Smith, aided by Bill Olson, has built well-crafted set pieces that trundle and spin to become everything from a strip club bathroom, to a brownstone apartment building, to home and apartment interiors. Stage manager Cheryl Callan has scene changes well-timed to the score of the show to provide minimal interruption of the story.
The Charlotte Players are careful to disclaim the adult nature and language of The Full Monty, but don’t make the mistake of thinking this is simply a male burlesque show. It is surprising how timely and topical the themes that make up the plot truly are. Bullying, fat shaming, the middle-class struggle, suicide, and changing sexual mores all intertwine to spin the fabric of the story. There are laughs aplenty, but pathos and even tears sneak into the narrative as well. Theatre-goers from 17 to 97 were all buzzing and smiling on their way out, after the rousing finale brought them to their feet.
The Full Monty finishes its run with nightly performances March1-4 and a matinee finale on Sunday, March 5th. Tickets can be ordered by phone at (941) 625-4175 ext 220, or online at www.charlotteplayers.org
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