Jake Minton, Alex Craig, Brian Bowles, Daniel Smith, Frank Goodloe, & Drew Fauch. Photo: CenterStage.
The Full Monty
Music and Lyrics by David Yazbek
Book by Terrence McNally
Directed by Frank Goodloe
Review by Kate Barry
Entire contents are copyright © 2019, Kate Barry. All rights reserved.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. Sure, this is a standard cliché but from these times of desperation come lessons learned, perhaps even growth and increased self-worth. The Full Monty portrays a community of men who are down on their luck financially and how they turn it all around. At Jewish Community Center’s CenterStage, the musical version of the 1997 film is full of camp, fun, and heart. In a time where toxic masculinity litters the media landscape, The Full Monty puts the focus on six underdogs who struggle with relatable insecurities as they form a one-night-only striptease act.
Riddled with fears of humiliation, this team of misfits learns how to move their bodies and work together as a team. Brian Bowles plays Jerry, who comes up with the idea to strip down once he realizes the huge financial gains. Bowles brings confident comedic timing to Jerry’s schemes and plans. As a father fighting for the custody of his son, Bowles provides tenderness as well, especially with his lovely version of “Breeze Off the River.” Bowles shares delightful moments with Drew Ashley who plays his son, Nathan, with every riff they lay on each other and every joke they share. Although Ashley is a younger actor, he maintains a mature presence on stage regardless of how raunchy the humor gets.
Jerry assembles a dance troupe of former coworkers who have been laid off from a steel mill. Immediately he turns to Dave, played by Daniel Smith. Body-conscious and unwilling, Smith and Bowles carry the show with their bromance, especially during the ironic yet always crowd-pleasing “Big Ass Rock.” Smith lends his vocal talents to a tender rendition of “You Rule My World” sung alongside Alex Craig as Harold. Craig emphasizes the play’s overarching themes of gender roles and body image as his character states the unfair disadvantages of societal expectations and the difficulties of rising to meet them.
Director Frank Goodloe also appears on stage as Noah or Horse. A mainstay at CenterStage for many years (and current Artistic Director), he brings hilarious dance moves and zippy one-liners throughout the show. Without a doubt, his rendition of “Big Black Man” is a showstopper. As Ethan, Brandon Fauch has some hilarious moments. During his audition scene, Fauch flexes his comedic muscle as he attempts to run up walls. But when Fauch displays his large “talent”, he approaches the delivery of the scene with direct yet dry wit, making it his very own. Jake Minton does well to make insecurity funny as Malcolm. As his character makes a suicide attempt, the staging and placement of Minton behind doors and slightly out of sight made the intentions and action within the scene slightly unclear. Nevertheless, Minton brings some boyish charm as the grown man who lives with his mother.
Jill Sullivan, who plays Georgie, and the female members of the ensemble are a riot as they prove without a doubt that “It’s A Woman’s World.” Accompanied by Myranda Thomas, Tymika Prince, Mimi Housewright, Madi Shipman, and Courtney Glenney, these clubgoers bring exuberant amounts of energy with every “woooo” and juicy morsel of gossip. “The Goods” provides a contrasting point of view of objectification where men are placed on display at the judgments of these women. As upbeat as the song was, the underlying message isn’t missed and resonates in this moment.
Kristy Calman steals the show as the piano player, Jeannette Burmeister. Fully equipped with a cigarette in one hand, quips about old Hollywood, and a New York accent, Calman absolutely steals the show as she helps Jerry and company prepare for the big performance. Charity Anderson is worried yet steadfast as Pam, Jerry’s ex-wife who cautiously keeps hope alive for Jerry and his scheme. Bridgett Thomas brings a well-rounded performance as Vicki, a housewife with a preference for nicer things.
With every play, opening night glitches are forgivable, yet others hard to ignore. As doors fell off hinges and actors improvised lines waiting for others to meet delayed cues, these types of things can be fixed in brush-up rehearsals. A further suggestion would be to proofread the cover of the audience program as it incorrectly lists Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine as creators of the show’s music and book. The two famous men were actually the creators of CenterStage’s last show, Into the Woods. David Yazbek, wrote The Full Monty’s music & lyrics with a book by Terrance McNally, who is also pretty famous.
At the risk of spoilers, there is a component to this show that cannot be ignored. Yes, the “Let It Go” number involves nudity. A cheeky musical number, for lack of a better term, this finale brings the whole show together. In order to get what you need, sometimes you need to leave your insecurities behind.
The Full Monty
January 10, 12, 14, 17, 19, 24 & 26 @ 7:30 pm
January 13, 20, 27 @ 2 pm
January 27 @ 6:30 pm
Tickets are $22 in advance, $24 on Saturday night and Sunday matinees, $24 “at the door” charge
Jewish Community Center
3600 Dutchman’s Lane
Louisville, Kentucky 40205
Kate Barry earned her Bachelors in English with a Theater minor from Bellarmine University in 2008. She has worked with many different companies around town including Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Bunbury Theater, Louisville Repertory Company, Walden Theater, Finnigan Productions and you have probably purchased tickets from her at that little performing arts center on Main Street as well. In 2012, her short play “PlayList” won festival favorite in the Finnigan Festival of Funky Fresh Fun. She has written for LEO Weekly and TheatreLouisville.com as well. Thanks for reading!