The Full Monty Opens Up, Bearing It All
This past weekend, Manoa Valley Theatre revealed their opening show of the season- The Full Monty.
The musical is based on the 1997 British film of the same name, and takes place in Buffalo, New York. The steel workers are facing layoffs and having to deal with unemployment checks as their wives take on the role of supporting the family. The men of the steel mill are also facing issues in their family lives. Jerry Lukowski (Christopher Denton) is fighting for custody for his son, Nathan (Nicholas Lockwood), with his ex-wife Pam (Hulita Drake). Dave Bukatinsky (David Herman) is fighting his inner insecurities, and it's affecting his relationship with his wife Georgie (Jennifer Sojot). The two men stumble upon their wives lining up for a Chippendales strip club, and after meeting one of the strippers in the club, come up with a plan- to have a striptease act of their own called Hot Steel. From there, they recruit more struggling men looking to get a paycheck and climb the shaky and uphill road into show business. Once confronted with the fact that hardly any of them are as hot as the Chippendales dancers, they throw down the gauntlet- they will go all the way, or in other words, the full monty, and show everything.
The songs are not very memorable, and the plot can teeter into absurdity, but ultimately Paul Mitri has directed a fun and campy romp. The men, who aren't dancers at all, end the show with a rousing and fun dance number thanks to choreographer Mareva Minerbi. Thanks to Michelle Bisbee (Set Design/Scenic Artist) and Janine Myers (Lighting Design), I really loved the way set and lighting worked together in this production: cycling between multiple locations, going in and out of a building very quickly, and even having an actual car in the alley.
Most of the cast deliver solid performances. Herman's Dave is terribly endearing as he faces body issues and insecurities. Sojot's Georgie hits home, as she fights for her marriage and her husband any way that she can. Timothy Jeffryes, as Harold Nichols, the senior of the group and the "choreographer" of Hot Steel, has a wonderful chemistry with his on stage wife Vicki, who is played by Suzanne Green. David A. Heulitt's Malcom MacGregor is earnest and great as a depressed momma's boy, who becomes one of the guys and gains a brighter outlook on life. Rebecca Lea McCarthy's Jeanette Burmeister has the perfect blend of spice and zing, and Jason "Pepper" Lamb's "Horse" delivers some of the best lines in the show. Tyler Kanemori as Buddy "Keno" Walsh can do one heck of a strip number, and Dylan Chace Lee's Dance Instructor made me long for more tango lessons! Unfortunately Denton's Jerry is inconsistent, sometimes feeling very forced in his deliveries and songs. Lockwood's Nathan drags, as he delivers a rough, wooden performance.
Ultimately, this is one fun and exciting ride. Come ready for some fun, skin, and some surprisingly heartfelt and tender moments as well as a lot of falls on stage (and off). Most of all, come ready to see this cast have some fun while taking it (all) off!