“The Full Monty”
2005 Season


A ‘Full Monty’ in Very Fine Form

By Lee Davis

A friendly word of warning to the armies of women who plan to experience the current Gateway production of The Full Monty at the Patchogue Theatre: Bring sunglasses and a flashlight, and sit way down front. It’s the only chance you’ll get to see the climactic, real Full Monty, unless the light board operator is a little slow at the switch the night you go.

And if you yourself are slow on the switch, don’t worry. There’s plenty to keep you entertained and observant. Before the main event, there’s lots of male flesh for the eye and salty language for the ear in this high spirited and mightily entertaining transfer of the 2000 musical adaptation of the popular movie.

And oh, were the women out in force on opening night – old, young, and in between. The jury is still out on whether or not their squeals and cheers were electronically enhanced. But safe to say, everyone had a good, low down, roaring good time. Even my co-critic, a normally self-collected and unflappable woman, slipped into the spirit of things as the magic moment neared.

The music by David Yazbeck is barely (oops) okay, serviceable in its high powered moments, and sappy in its serious ones. Mr. Yazbeck, who has gone on to financial, if not artistic, prominence with Bombay Dreams and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, is a better lyricist than composer, and his words capture some of the poignancy of Terrence McNally’s excellent, frequently touching book.

Thanks to Mr. McNally, there’s a large dose of reality along with the high jinks on stage, which, with the exception of the deep valleys of the serious songs, is involving and faultlessly acted. Director Keith Andrews never lets the slambang pumping up of the musical numbers interfere with the grounding and deepening of the playwright’s dramatic situations.

For this is, like its peppy cousin, Calendar Girls, a story about believable human beings, carrying their own insecurities about their bodies, their male capabilities, their futures, and their fight to find and maintain self-respect. And, again in the mold of Calendar Girls, The Full Monty is no Mr. America Pageant: it offers plenty of reassurance and simple compassion for male audience members who don’t measure up to the bodies on display in Calvin Klein underwear ads.

The story is known well enough by now: A group of factory workers in Buffalo, New York, is laid off. The married ones in the group have equal parts of marital and personal problems, particularly Jerry Lukowski, the mover and shaker of the group. Separated from his wife and son, he is in dire need of money and the proof that he can make it. His idea of turning a collection of not altogether muscular giants into a Chippendales attraction that goes one step beyond the ordinary to bare the notorious full monty is the stuff of the story.

Once again, the Gateway has exercised its impeccable tendency to cast wisely and well. Sheri Sanders as Georgie Bukatinksy keeps the show aloft with a rousing vocal delivery and tempers it with a poignant portrayal of the wife of Dave, the man with yards of belly. Julie Dingman Evans as Pam Lukowski, Jerry’s wife, is a statuesque and dynamic dancer. And Heather Laws, as Vicki Nichols, the acquisitive and ultimately hugely sympathetic wife of Harold, the executive who is swept up in a restructuring wave of firings, delivers her solo chronology, “Life With Harold,” with verve and vivacity, and joins Sheri Sanders for a touching duet, a reprise of “You Rule My World” in act two.

Gerrianne Raphael scores, as the world-bitten rehearsal pianist for the troupe.

The men are, to a man, solid individuals who deliver on a number of levels. Nick Dalton and Andy Jobe handle the nerdy comedy roles, involving a carload of physical humor, brightly. Bill Kocis is endearing as Harold Nichols, the accountant whose energy is divided between learning how to dance and covering his tracks with his wife Vicki, who lives on – for a while – in a dream world of disappearing wealth. Kingsley Leggs as “Horse” Simmons, is a delight, delivering his solo turn “Big Black Man” with roof rattling vitality.

Tad Wilson is ultimately touching as Dave Bukatinsky, the hopeful dancer with a load of avoirdupois. His struggle with his self image and his penultimate scene with his wife Georgie are two of the true reasons for the substantial grounding of The Full Monty.

And Charlie Pollock handles the lead role of the tortured and talented Jerry Lukoswki, haunted by specters of failure in a marriage, a job and his life with a delicate but dynamic balance. As in Tad Wilson’s portrait, it’s a multi-dimensional articulation.

Patrick Q. Kelly’s musical director is solid and supportive; Kelly Tighe’s unit set is useful and authentic; Brian Loesch’s lighting design is, as usual, enormously enhancing.

All in all, The Full Monty is a load of fun, with substance and recognition for the men in the audience, and some possibly unaccustomed excitement for the women. As for the children: best to leave them home.

The Full Monty continues at the Patchogue Theater venus of the Gateway Tehater every evening but Monday and in numerous matinees through September 3. The box office number is 286-1133.

Review: The Full Monty

By Roy Bradbrook

Some of the all time great comedies are based on the reactions of people to very difficult or unhappy situations; just think of the Chaplin films, for instance. Laughter and tears are never far apart and this is very true of The Full Monty, the musical based on that surprise award-winning British film from back in 1997, and now being presented by Gateway Playhouse at the Patchogue Theater until September 3. Over the past twenty years or so, both Britain and the USA have had to come to terms with the shutting down of many traditional industrial companies and the struggle for survival that many who previously held good paying jobs face. The original film was set in Sheffield in the north of England, but Terrence McNally moved the setting to Buffalo in upstate New York.

So, take a guy, Jerry, desperate to get some money so that he can pay off his child support and keep seeing his teenage son. Add in a motley collection of other guys who have their own reasons for needing money, although basically all of them would like nothing more than a good paying job, such as they had before the mill closed and where they can feel that they are valued. Then, factor in a chance meeting with a male stripper that sets the dollar signs off in Jerry’s head and the most unlikely prospect unfolds of this group setting aside all their inbred macho prejudices and agreeing to ‘star’ in a male strip show. Originally it is planned to be just down to the bare essentials, but circumstances eventually dictate the need to bare all to ensure a sell out.

The Gateway Theater production of The Full Monty opened to a packed house, seemingly ready from the start for some action. Frankly, the show started very slowly and, on opening night, the balance between the orchestra and the singers always seemed to be in favor of the band. A pity, because there were some good voices on display, not that this musical is one where the songs are ever likely to go down in musical history.

The central role of Jerry is excellently portrayed by Charlie Pollock, and you can really feel for him and his beer-bellied, close friend Dave, played by Tad Wilson with a great mix of bravado and vulnerability. They and the other male characters combine in “Scrap,” a bitter double entendre on the raw material they used to work with and how they view themselves now they can no longer find worthwhile work. Double entendres are, for obvious reasons, the order of the day and there is enough bad language and sexual references to make the “Adults only” warning for the show valid.

The show really takes off in the hilarious audition scene, as dreadful but desperate prospective strippers show their worth (or other attributes in the case of Ethan, played by Nick Dalton). The highlight of this scene, though, is when Horse, black, sixty-ish and limping (and beautifully characterized by Kingsley Leggs), enters and then electrifies the audience with some very cool dance moves in the hot number, “Big Black Man” – told you about the double entendres!

In a rare, reflective moment in the show, the number “You Rule My World” showcases the different personas and lifestyles of Dave and his previous boss Harold, played by Bill Kocis, and how they still face up to the problems in their marital relationships. Relationships of many types are an integral part of the story line and it is interesting to see how McNally weaves the threads together.

Anyway, after discovering that basketball moves, which are second nature to them, enable them to begin to move with some semblance of togetherness, especially aided by the sterling efforts of tough veteran rehearsal pianist, Jeanette (Gerianne Raphael), they are set to go where most men would feat to tread!

What can you say about the finale? Why does the sight of six very assorted men taking off their clothes, most of whom look as though raising a beer glass or a large cheeseburger is more normal for them than lifting weights, bring the audience to a frenzy? Just believe me: it does. What do you see – well, you will have to go and see the show for yourself. The whole cast is well chosen and makes for believable characters. While the men are the center of attraction it wouldn’t be the same without the strong supporting cast of ladies. Producer Paul Allan has done a great job in balancing the characters and moods, and set designer Kelly Tighe uses steel to good effect in the staging. When you see the show you will realize how crucial the work of Lighting Designer Brian Loesch is for the ‘success’ of the strip show.

Over the years many playwrights have used the medium of comedy to send a message, so as you come away laughing take a moment to think of the underlying message of The Full Monty. Whatever your political viewpoint, there is no doubt that the problems of survival and self respect for people facing the loss of jobs through consolidation, globalization or any other form of ‘ization’ are ones we still haven’t solved.

For tickets, call (631) 286-1133, or 1-888-4TIXNOW, or go to the box office at the Patchogue Theater one hour before showtime. Or check the website at www.gatewayplayhouse.com.



'Monty' lets it all hang out


August 19, 2005

It's not my custom to reveal a show's ending, however transparent its denouement may be - if that's not too dressed-up a word for standing buck naked before the world. But since "The Full Monty" reveals all in its title, I feel duty-bound to report that those guys on stage at the Patchogue Theatre opening night stood in full-frontal, arms-aloft, birthday-suit abandon. I have every faith.

It was a blinding experience.

Frankly, before the 1997 indie about unemployed English blokes who decide to shed their inhibitions for cash, I'd have guessed that "The Full Monty" was a biopic on General Montgomery.

I might not've been far off: The cast assembled by Gateway Playhouse knocked 'em as dead as any World War II field marshal. "The Full Monty" does not advance the American musical art form. It does not, thank goodness, try to make any serious statement. But its 2 1/2 hours fly by faster than the 15-minute intermission.

Heading the cast of losers with naked ambitions is Charlie Pollock as Jerry, who's about to lose joint custody of his son for nonsupport. He's been laid off at the steel plant in Buffalo, where "Monty" was transported in its 2001 Broadway incarnation. Joining him are Tad Wilson as his beer-belly buddy Dave, who ignores his wife (Sherie Sanders) because she works and he doesn't; Andy Jobe as Malcolm, a suicidal living-with-his-mom geek; and Bill Kocis as Harold, their former boss whose wife has expensive taste. Together with a salty-tongued accompanist (Gerrianne Raphael) they audition for two more strippers. Kingsley Leggs tries and mostly succeeds in convincing us he's a 60ish has-been with his rollicking introduction, "Big Black Man." Nick Dalton as Ethan drops drawers, mooning the audience, to demonstrate his qualifications.

A musical about guys showing us theirs - will they or won't they? - may or may not be your idea of entertainment. But these guys are real men, in that any of them might be the guy next door, perhaps the last one you'd pay money to see strip. But that's the charm. As much humanity as anatomy is revealed, starting with the hilarious "Big-Ass Rock," in which Malcolm's former workmates think of ways to help him kill himself after asphyxiation fails. What are friends for? Sure, there are the obligatory sweet-and-sour love songs. But "The Full Monty," crisply directed by Keith Andrews, never cloys.

Kelly Tighe's industrial-strength set morphs from corrugated warehouse into bedroom, men's room and dance-hall configurations. Music director Patrick Kelly never misses a beat in David Yazbek's rough-edged score and lyrics. Most critical to "Monty's" integrity is lighting director Brian Loesch. Or whoever throws the back-lighting switch when, on the closing number, the strippers "Let It Go."

You won't believe what you don't see.

THE FULL MONTY. Musical by Terrence McNally, David Yazbek. Gateway Playhouse at Patchogue Theatre, 71 E. Main St., Patchogue, through Sept. 3. Tickets, $32-$38; 631-286-1133. Seen Wednesday.

Copyright 2005 Newsday Inc.

Do They do The Full Monty?

Gateway’s saucy production steams up Patchogue Theatre

By Brian Curry

If the Gateway Playhouse’s summer lineup were a baseball player, it’d be batting a perfect 1.000. From Evita and on through Ain’t Misbehavin’, Aida and 42nd Street, it’s been one great, cool Broadway caliber show after another without a strikeout in this long, hot, humid summer.

That hitting streak continues with the current show of The Full Monty, which is now showing at the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts. That is, with one major qualification – if you blush easy, embarrass easy, find risqué performances offensive and bawdy humor threatening then please do not go to see this show. If those things don’t bother you, then by all means go and be prepared to laugh, to snicker and to wonder if these guys are indeed gonna go the Full Monty. Every ad that you’ve seen for this show mentions that this is for mature audiences and believe me, they do mean it.

Now that that is out of the way, the show is very, very funny. Adapted from the sleeper indie movie hit of 1997 and the locale moved from gritty England to a blue-collar area of Buffalo, New York, it opened up on Broadway as a musical in September 2000. It ran for over two years and garnered an impressive total of 10 Tony nominations. Unfortunately for The Full Monty, that was also the year that The Producers swept the awards and they went home empty-handed.

These are six Buffalo laid off steelworkers who, as they bemoan in song, feel like scrap. Men measure their worth with their jobs and their ability to bring home the bacon as the breadwinner. These guys are no different and they are seriously depressed and running out of options on how to turn their lives around.

It seems like every woman in Buffalo is gainfully employed and the boys get an idea to make some money when they see how wild the girls go on their night out lustily sung in “A Woman’s World” with some Chippendale-like male strip dancers who strut their stuff. Hey, I warned you, didn’t I?

Charlie Pollock as Jerry has an extra reason to make money. His ex-wife is not only gainfully employed, but a big manager in town, and she’s threatening to take away joint custody if Jerry doesn’t catch up on his child support. Pollock, who was most recently seen on Broadway in Urinetown: The Musical, just wants his son to know he’s not a loser.

Jerry’s our ringleader and does the adult X-rated version of Mickey Rooney’s “Hey Kids, Let’s Put on a Show!” His interaction with his ex, played with convincing, understanding, exasperation and even a slight bit of compassion by Julie Dingman Evans, and his son Nathan, handled ably by Brendan Dooling, gives the play its real face.

Every leading man needs his buddy and Jerry’s is wonderfully handled by Tad Wilson, a guy with a belly who, for obvious physical reasons, doesn’t quite feel that this is quite the best idea. If Jerry gives the play its face, then Tad Wilson and his spunky wife, played by Sheri Sanders, give it its heart. Their marriage is in trouble because of this period of unemployment and doubt and neither of them knows how to tell the other how much they’re hurting.

There are four other members of this working man strip group and what a great cast they are. Kingsley Leggs as Horse sings and hoofs through a hilarious “Big Black Man” (seen on Broadway in Miss Saigon). There’s also Bill Kocis as Harold (Father Nicolai from The Sopranos) and two great turns from Nick Dalton as Ethan and Andy Jobe as Malcom. At one point, Jobe sings a song that in this otherwise raucous comedy will leave you dabbing at your eyes in sorrow. It is that moving.

But everyone wants to know do they do The Full Monty? C’mon, you think I’m going to spill the beans? Here’s a hint – they don’t call it The Half Monty. So if you pay heed to my mentioned qualifications plus another one for occasional salty language that would a truck driver blush, then go find out for yourself.

The Full Monty plays at The Patchogue Theatre through September 3. For tickets or further information call the Gateway at Gateway at 286-1133 or check out their website at www.gatewayplayhouse.com.

“The Full Monty” Bares It All At The Patchogue Theatre

By Genevieve Salamone and Jennifer Roller

With all the musicals that exploit women, it’s finally fun and refreshing to see a show like The Full Monty, where men are the eye-candy. The Gateway Playhouse presents the ten-time Tony Award nominated musical about a handful of down-on-their-luck Buffalo steelworkers who think up a brilliant scheme to make some serious money: stripping.

Charlie Pollack, as the sexy divorced dad Jerry Lutkowski, leads his troop of six regular guys on the ride of their lives in order to make some cash so he can keep custody of his son. Pollock’s vocals are right on pitch throughout the performance, and are strongly supported by those of his cast mates.

Tad Wilson is hilarious as Jerry’s overweight best buddy, Dave Bukatinsky – playing “the fat guy” sure looks like a fun time. Dave is out of work and out of touch with his wife Georgie, and throughout the performance we see him struggle with his feelings of inadequacy. Andy Jobe, as the timid and softhearted Malcom MacGregor, lends his high tenor voice well to composer David Yazbek’s score. His emotional rendition of “You Walk With Me” near the end beautifully showcases his singing ability. The character, “Horse,” is played phenomenally by Kingsley Leggs. Horse’s first scene is hysterically explosive as he sings “Big Black Man” with all of the sultry soul required of the part.

Keith Andrews takes on the double role of director/choreographer in this staging, where he showcases his actors’ dance ability. Also on display throughout the performance is Andrews’ own extraordinary skill at synchronizing dance with music, which me might expect from the current director of the National tour of The Full Monty. Combining Andrews’ steps with the cast’s energy and Patrick Q. Kelly’s incredible orchestra makes for a truly enjoyable show.

The Full Monty is much more than just a silly show about guys stripping. It boasts a real plot laden with singing and dancing that makes you feel like you are connected with the characters. You can feel their many emotions throughout the performance, which is a testament to a well-written script. The ability to captivate viewers is the mark of an extraordinary group of actors who have the stage presence an audience is searching for.

Now let’s get to the real point here: Do the guys go “The Full Monty?” I’m not one to ruin a good show, but you really don’t want to miss this Gateway masterpiece – just leave the little ones at home!

The Full Monty plays at the Patchogue Theatre now through September 3. To get your tickets for this show, or for tickets to Gateway’s final show of the season, Sugar: The Some Like It Hot Musical, call 1-888-4-TIXNOW, visit the Gateway box office in Bellport or go to www.gatewayplayhouse.com.