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January 16, 2008 > The Full Monty Bares It All

The Full Monty Bares It All

By Emma Victoria G. Blanco

Newark's Stage 1 Theater opens the 2008 season with a delightful production of The Full Monty. A small, low-budget English film, The Full Monty became a blockbuster hit, grossed $256 million and received several Academy Award nominations. It was only a matter of time before someone would decide to make it into an "Americanized" musical. Based on the book by Terrence McNally, with lyrics and music composed by David Yazbek, this local community production of The Full Monty is wonderfully directed by Sue Ellen Nelsen and produced by Stage 1's illustrious trio of Denise Watson, Nancy Rosenblum and Debbie Otterstetter.

A Buffalo, New York steel factory has closed and after months of searching for jobs, many of its workers still find themselves unemployed and wallowing in low self-esteem, a lot of self-doubt and self-deprecation. One of these workers is Jerry Lukowski (Lee Watson), a divorced father who's not only low in cash but is facing the possibility of losing joint custody of his son (Tristan Scheving). Lukowski and the other unemployed steel workers feel emasculated that the women are now the household breadwinners and are hesitant to take on dead-end minimum-wage jobs as security guards and stock clerks. An encounter with a Chippendales stripper gives Lukowski an idea for how to make a quick buck. With the help of his overweight best friend, Dave Bukatinsky (Christopher A. Ciabattoni), they recruit four other "average" men (Josh Milbourne, Dan Kapler, Jermaine Alexander and Kevin Hammond) and proceed to produce and perform in a "one night only" strip-show. But then the women challenge Lukowski's idea. Why would anyone come to see a bunch of out-of-shape local guys strip to their skivvies? Why indeed? Well, maybe they'll do something extra special... maybe they'll go all the way, yeah, that's it! They'll strip it all off - The Full Monty.

The show's shining star is Leslie Troxell, whose incredible stage presence and strong vocal range captivates the audience. She plays the colorful character of Jeanette Burmeister, the dancers' bawdy pianist. The rest of the cast is also clearly talented and they are impressive with their skillful comic timing. Nelsen superbly directs this ensemble and together they succeed in delivering the moral lessons behind the story. As Nelsen eloquently states, "The Full Monty is about more than stripping down to expose your physical self. It's about baring your soul to disclose the essence of who you are and what you need emotionally, spiritually and physically."

Stage 1's The Full Monty is a lot of fun, filled with "roll-on-the-floor" funny scenes, poignant moments and amusing lyrics. Unforgettable songs include "Big-Ass Rock," "Big Black Man," and "Jeanette's Showbiz Number." From the ribald opening scenes through the climactic finale, the show engages the audience's participation and sympathy for the characters' plight. The Full Monty is the perfect show for date night or a "ladies night out."

Performances will continue at 7:30 p.m. on January 18, 19, 25 and 26, and at 2:30 p.m. on January 20. General admission is $22. Note that the show is for mature audiences only; no one under 18 years of age will be admitted. To purchase tickets in advance or for special group rates, call (510) 791-0287, go to www.stage1theatre.org, or visit The Book End bookstore in Newark.

The Full Monty
January 11 - 26, 2008
Stage 1 Theatre
(Newark Memorial High School)
7:30 p.m. (Jan 20 at 2:30 p.m.)
39375 Cedar Blvd., Newark
(510) 791-0287
www.stage1theatre.org

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