The Palace Theatre’s current production of The Full Monty is engaging, entertaining, and a bit of a cliff-hanger. Will they or won’t they and if they do, well…
Based on the popular film of the late 1990’s, the stage version of The Full Monty with book by Terrence McNally and music and lyrics by David Yazbeck is set in current day Buffalo, New York. The closing down of a major manufacturing facility has been a devastating blow to the men of the community, who find themselves trying to cope with the loss of their position as breadwinners. Their only options seem to be working as a security guard or hourly employee at a large discount retailer. Their pride is on the line, and the options are all bad until two of them stumble upon a way to make a lot of money in a hurry…yep, become a male stripper.
David Sray delivers a spot-on performance as Jerry Lukowski, the ringleader of the group of six. Jerry has not only lost his job, but his wife is on the brink of marrying someone else. Additionally, there is the threat of adoption of his son by a potential new husband, which would take away the last thing dear to Jerry.
When Jerry realizes just how much money is made by the male dancers at their wives’ Girls Night Out, he persuades his friend, Dave Bukatinsky, ably played by Erik Freisinger, to help him recruit and train four other guys to help them put on a male stripper show, And what a diverse group they are: Harold Nichols played by James Frazier, Malcom MacGregor played by Tim O’Neal, Ethan Girard played by Bobby Dipasquale, and Noah “Horse” Simmons played by Roderick D. Sanford.
The story of their challenges, their struggles, their secrets, their pride, and ultimately their friendship has us rooting for them all the time, but lurking in the shadows is the question of will they or won’t they deliver on their promise of The Full Monty.
This was a strong, talented cast. The Palace has once again delivered a delightful entertaining production. In addition to the lead characters who delivered memorable performances, mention should be made of the spot-on comedic performance of B. J. Ortwein.
Directed by Mary Ellen Butler, the show is a delightful, entertaining production. Though the stage is what it is because it was once a movie house nearly a century ago, the various production teams do their magic once more. The elevated area for the band was deftly integrated into the set, and how they got that car in and out must have required some special magic. I loved it. I laughed, I cried, and I rooted for it to work out…and yes, I was, like the other women in the audience, anticipating the final scene.