Produced by: Hillbarn Theatre
Directed by: Dennis Lickteig
Choreographed by: Lee Ann Payne
Music direction by: Mark Dietrich
Featuring: Kyle Arrouzet, Jack Barrett, Andy Cooperfauss, James Creer, Jorge Luis Diaz, Ian Freeman, Adrienne Herro, Brigitte Losey, Greg Lynch, Jen Martinelli, Alfredo Mendoza, Amy Meyers, Glenna Murrillo, Brian Palac, Linda Piccone, Jepoy Ramos, Christopher Reber, Elana Ron, Brad Satterwhite, Michelle Skinner, and Jay Thulien
When: May 3-20, 2018
Where: Hillbarn Theatre, 285 East Hillsdale Boulevard, Foster City
Tickets: $27–$52; call 650-349-6411, extension 2, or visit www.hillbarntheatre.org.
for a fun show at Hillbarn
than just exposing the family jewels
The origin of the British phrase "the full monty" is uncertain, possibly referring to the large breakfast Field Marshall Montgomery would tuck into, even while on campaign. But its meaning is well-known in the UK — everything, the works. In the movie and now musical of the same name it refers to a group of amateur male strippers who decide to bare all in front of friends and family for a sum of money commensurate with the task.
Hillbarn's production of the musical is a joy. Andy Cooperfauss plays Jerry Lukowski, who loses his job when the local mill closes in the New York town of Buffalo. Out of work for almost a year he is getting desperate, living off handouts from the union, and having already lost his wife, he is in danger of losing his son Nate (Jack Barrett) if he can't come up with the child-support payments. He and his friends from the mill, also unemployed, sing "Scrap," which is what they all feel like on the dole. Some of the songs go a little too high for Cooperfauss's voice, but he makes up for it with his acting and dancing.
When he sees some of the wives, who have jobs and therefore money, coming out of a male stripper show which they have clearly enjoyed, and have paid $50 each to see, he comes up with the crazy idea of putting on his own "for one night only" local boys strip show. He tries to recruit his best friend Dave (Christopher Reber) but Dave turns him down saying, "Call me Tina Turner, I'm a private dancer." Dave is a little podgy and he sings laconically to his bulging stomach, "You rule my world." Reber plays Dave with genuine feeling. His wife wants him to take a security guard job at Walmart, but he resists, hoping something better will come up. Which it doesn't, so he takes the night job, breaking ranks with his buddies.
Harold Nichols, played by Gregory Lynch, has another problem. As well as being unemployed, he hasn't told his wife Vicki, played and sung with real passion by Adrienne Herro. They have a fairly lavish lifestyle, with holidays abroad, expensive clothes (and shoes!) and assorted home gadgets. Harold also happens to teach ballroom dancing, and so Jerry threatens to spill the beans about Harold's unemployment to Mrs. Nichols unless he agrees to teach them a strip routine. And then the fun starts.
They need six likely lads, says Harold, no more, no less. They advertise around town, and in come the flotsam and jetsam. Ethan (Bradley Satterwhite) is determined to recreate the wall-climbing scene from "Singing In The Rain," but try as he might, the wall always seems to come off the winner. Diminutive Malcolm (Brian Palac) has no friends, or self-confidence, but Palac's voice is as sweet as they come — strong, pure, and with an extensive range. But of the auditionee,s one stands out. Noah — "people call me ‘Horse'" — Simmons is a wizened, down-in-the-mouth black guy who shuffles up to the judging desk with his cane and says he can dance. It seems a little unlikely until the music starts. James Creer comes to life in the role, all swinging arms, dancing feet and flashing white smiles. This guy can really bust a move!
Although Horse has the best moves, the best lines belong to the accompanist Jennette, played by Linda Piccone. A wise-cracking "New Yoarker," she has something to say about everything and everyone. She also gets her own song which includes the memorable lines:
"I've played for hoofers who can't hoof
I've played for tone-deaf singers,
And once, when I insulted Frank,
I played with broken fingers"
But somehow they pull a show together. Initially they were only intending to go down to their scivvies, but to ensure a good turnout with the ladies, Jerry throws in a promise of "The Full Monty." On stage at Hillbarn, the lads may or may not have shown their twigs and stones, but it would be wrong of me to, um, "expose" the surprise, whichever side of the gender spectrum you hail from.
Directing credits go to Dennis Lichteig, with music by Mark Dietrich, and choreography by Lee Ann Payne (the basketball sequence was wonderful). Beneath all the jokes and titillation, "The Full Monty" has some surprisingly deep undertones about male insecurity, friendship, fatherhood, depression and self-esteem. Hillbarn, as usual, hits all the right notes.
Email Tony Lacy-Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org