Reston Community Players The Full MontyBy Amanda Lipon • Mar 17th, 2009 • Category: Reviews
Reston Community Players
Reston Community Center, Reston, VA
$20/$17 Seniors and Students
Playing through March 28th
Reviewed March 14, 2009
Layoffs, a lousy economy and crackpot schemes to get rich quick; no, I’m not talking about the front page of the Washington Post, but rather, underlying themes of The Full Monty, an Americanized musical version of the 1997 British movie with the same name. Re-set in Buffalo, New York, the play is about six unemployed and desperate-for-cash steelworkers who decide to perform a striptease at a local club after seeing their wives’ and girlfriends’ enthusiasm for a touring Chippendale’s production. The premise of the musical hints at loads of low-brow humor, double-entendres and, of course, nudity, but the play also touches upon the weightier issues of unemployment, self-consciousness, depression and suicide and conspicuous consumption. On Saturday night, the Reston Community Players rendition of the musical delivered traditional Broadway camp, toe tapping songs and outrageous plot lines to a sold-out audience. RCP also offered up a rare and wonderful gift in community theater: a phenomenal male ensemble.
The show opens in a tacky Buffalo nightclub, where Georgie, boldly played by Hannah R. Rohlfs, has organized a male strip show to entertain the local ladies. To the stage enters Daniel McKay, as professional stripper Buddy (Keno) Walsh, and provides plenty of eye candy with his washboard abs and moves worthy of the real Chippendale’s dancers. Cut to the all-but-abandoned steel mill, where Jerry Lukowski, played by Evan Hoffmann, and other unemployed steel workers, lament the loss of their jobs, purpose and dignity. Jerry and his rotund side-kick, Dave Bukatinsky (played by Mike Hoskinson), collect their unemployment checks and head to the local bar, where they encounter Buffalo women, including their wives, willing to shell out $50 to see male strippers. Jerry, whose ex-wife is threatening to seek full custody of their son if Jerry doesn’t start paying child support, begins to concoct a plan to present a one-night “real man” strip show, and, in typical musical comedy fashion, hilarity ensues.
The ladies of “Monty” do the best they can with their decidedly two-dimensional characters. Worth noting is Lisa Merritt, playing Vicki Nichols who revels in her upper-middle class lifestyle, blissfully ignorant of the fact that her husband has been out of a job for six months. Merritt possesses a brassy and beautiful belt and portrays Vicki’s happy-go-lucky character nicely. Joan Monks as the chain-smoking, retired pianist Jeannette Burnmeister, does a decent New York accent and provides some of the best one-liners of the evening. Rohlfs as Georgie, Dave’s hard-working, hard-playing wife, also lends a strong voice and some sincere acting to the show. Jacki Young, playing Jerry’s ex-wife Pam, is poised and pretty; unfortunately, she never really explores the frustration of a single mom living paycheck to paycheck who might occasionally let her more working class roots show through. The female ensemble in general brought good harmonies and colorful characters to the show, but the scenes were invariably stolen by the men.
Hoffmann as Jerry has a strong, clear voice, although he struggles with some of the higher vocals. He seems a little uncomfortable with his anger in the opening scenes, but quickly warms up to the role once he begins his striptease scheming and his dancing skills are second only to McKay among the male ensemble. Hoskinson as Dave, however, delivered the best performance of the evening. He is deliciously blue collar, from the top of his beer belly to the tips of his work boots. Hoskinson’s voice is solid and he provides plenty of side-splitting laughs for the audience, while also showing real acting chops when struggling with his self-consciousness and marital challenges. Other leading men include the lonely and awkward security guard, Malcolm MacGregor, played by Justin Latus who brings an almost child-like innocence and a clear and gentle tenor to the role. Ethan Girard, who can’t really sing or dance but brings other “endowments” to the strip show, is played by an extremely brave Chuck Dluhy. Paul Mattocks portrays Harold Nichols, a former manager at the steel mill who is desperate to hide his failures from his extravagant wife. His role is often relegated to “straight man” against the other more flamboyant characters, although his love duet with Dave (“You Rule My World”) had me in stitches. Adrian Cubbage as Noah “Horse” T. Simmons had the audience whistling and cat-calling during his rendition of “Big Black Man.” Finally, little Nathan Lukowski is played by spunky Ian Pedersen, with an impish grin and the hit and miss wisdom of a ten-year-old going on 40.
In case you are curious, the show does live up to the promise in its title, so children and those with more delicate sensibilities might want to sit this one out. The rest of us will inevitably enjoy the funny, touching and daring production so successfully directed by Sue Pinkman.
I was able to visit Broadway not too long after the Twin Towers fell in 2001. New York was aching, the town was suffering financially, and the residents and tourists out for a late autumn stroll would salute the firemen who were sitting outside the fire-houses, still draped in mourning. It was a struggle to find a way to enjoy life again, or find some momentary consolation in just getting through the day. Everywhere you looked, there were constant reminders of the trauma that native New Yorkers had experienced just a short time ago. I walked up to the Box Office, and got two seats in the 9th row Orchestra for The Full Monty, and what a difference a few hours made! People leaving the theatre were joyful…laughing…feeling a relief and release (oh…there’s that double entendre again!) that amy only last a few hours, but how awesome to be able to share that, or better yet to be the CAUSE of it!
Admittedly, The Full Monty is NOT for everyone. If you have any reservations about hearing bawdy language and sexual innuendo, this is NOT the show for you! You have never heard lyrics in a musical like you will hear tonight…and you will definitely “see a side” of your local actors that you have not seen before. However, if you can look past the outer trappings, there is a message and a metaphor that everyone can relate to, and I have just one suggestion for you: LET IT GO!
Each of the six main characters has an inner demon to confront to say nothing of the pressures and stress of everyday life when one is unemployed, or divorced, or over-weight, or just not quite happy enough to make it worthwhile getting up in the morning. Granted, they go about finding a solution in a rather audacious and unconventional way, but after all, it IS a musical comedy. It is my sincere hope that you will look beyond what you will actually SEE on stage, and recognize the wonderful message that the show is all about…stripping away the invisible barriers that prevent us from living our lives to the fullest!
“Hats-off” to my phenomenally courageous Monty-guys, my heroes, Evan, Mike, Chuck, Justin, Paul and Adrian, for their amazing talent, hours and hours of rehearsal, and unrelenting sense of humor. To the ladies and gents in the ensemble, you are the best of the best, and my heartfelt thanks to all of you for your talent and your patience. Many, many thanks to Ivan, Mark, and Jim for such wonderful teamwork, and lastly, I salute the Producettes (my fellow grannies), and the entire staff of designers and running crew for bringing this wonderful production to the stage. Now, have a fun-filled evening… and LET IT GO!
- Georgie Bukatinsky: Hannah R. Rohlfs
- Buddy (Keno) Walsh: Daniel McKay
- Reg Willoughby: Allen McRae
- Gary Bonasorte: Sam McCrea
- Marty: David Segal
- Jerry Lukowski: Even Hoffmann
- Dave Bukatinsky: Mike Hoskinson
- Malcolm MacGregor: Justin Latus
- Ethan Girard: Chuck Dluhy
- Nathan Lukowski: Ian Pedersen
- Susan Hershey: Emily Wallace
- Joanie Lish: KJ Jacks
- Estelle Genovese: Alana Sharp
- Delores: Andrea Heininge
- Betty: Eileen Mullee
- Pan Lukowski: Jacki Young
- Teddy: Daniel McKay
- Jogger #1: Eileen Mullee
- Jogger #2: KJ Jacks
- Molly MacGregor: Eileen Mullee
- Harold Nichols: Paul Mattocks
- Vicki Nichols: Lisa Merritt
- Dance Instructor: Emily Wallace
- Jeanette Burmeister: Joann Monks
- Noah “Horse” T. Simmons: Adrian Cubbage
- Repo Man #1: Sam McCrea
- Repo Man #2: Allen McRae
- Police Sergeant: Allen McRae
- Minister: Sam McCrea
- Tony: Giordano: David Segal
- Co-Producers: Judy Cook, Sharon Pound, Kay Vakerics
- Director: Sue Pinkman
- Musical Director: Mark Deal
- Choreographer: Ivan Davila
- Dance Captain: Hannah Rohlfs
- Stage Manager: Laura Baughman
- Set Design: Skip Larson
- Master Carpenter: Skip Larson
- Set Construction Crew: Sarah Paukstis, Sara Birkhead, Phil Charlwood (Car), Scott Johnson, Stephanie Gordon, Kelsey Jandura
- Set Painting: Skip Larson, Sarah Paukstis, Bea and Jerry Morse, Sharon Pound, Stephanie Gordon
- Lighting Design: Frank Coleman
- Lighting Crew: Ian Claar, Meghan Yeager
- Costume Design: Judy Whelihan
- Dressers: Charlotte Marson, Mary Catherine Williams
- Sound Design: Kevin Harney
- Sound Crew: Rich Claar
- Set Decoration: Bea and Jerry Morse
- Make up/Hair & Wigs: Sue Pinkman
- Properties Acquisition: Eileen Mullee
- Properties Mistress: Amy Frank
- Master Electrician: Ian Claar
- Fight Choreography: Karen Schlumpf and Brian Farrell
- Running Crew Chief: Sara Birkhead
- Running Crew: Sarah Paukstis, Jeff Bumgardner, Craig Davies, Nathan Williams, Tom Epps, David Holt, Mike O’Connor, Stacy Sherrad
- Flyman: Rick Schneider
- House Manager: Judy Cook
- Publicity: Kay Vakerics, Amy Frank
- Showbill: Jody Al Saigh, Bea and Jerry Morse
- Photographer: Joe Douglass
- Sign Interpreters: Jan Hishimura, Nicole Reynolds
- Conductor: Mark V. Deal
- Reeds: Dana Gardner, Howard McCullers
- Trumpets: Terry Bradley, Michael Fox, Scott Firestone
- Trombone: Chris Bradley
- Keyboard: James D. Watson, Amy Conley
- Guitar: Rick Peralta, Alex Blizniak
- Bass: Aaron Mynes, Rob Weaver
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/3601.
Amanda Lipon is an attorney by day and true theater amateur by night, having participated in a variety of roles both on and off the stage (mostly for free). Favorite credits include Anne in A Little Night Music (Quadramics), Mrs. Walker in Tommy (Pennsylvania Players) and Mona Stanley in Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (Quadramics). Amanda was seen most recently as Irene in Crazy for You, presented by the Pickwick Players.