Riverside Dinner Theatre The Full MontyBy Jennifer Gusso • Mar 27th, 2013 • Category: Reviews
Riverside Dinner Theatre: (Info) (Web)
Riverside Dinner Theater, Fredericksburg, VA
Through April 28th
2:50 with intermission
$55-$60/$50-$55 Seniors/$40 child
Reviewed March 23rd, 2013
In Buffalo, New York, a group of steel workers have been unemployed since the mill closed. Beyond the financial hardships, for each of these men, their identity has been called into question. The Full Monty really explores what makes a man. Beneath a silly, fun story about the possibility of these regular, everyday guys taking off their clothes for money is a heart-warming tale of finding and redefining yourself when the occupation that used to define you is gone. Riverside Dinner Theatre lets this real heart of the story guide, and the result is a genuine portrayal of love mixed with laughter, fun, and shenanigans.
Director Patrick A’Hearn has a clear vision that never allows anything to go over-the-top. He recognizes that keeping things real is the key to great theatre. In a day and age where so many directors take every opportunity to make things as filthy and filled with cheap laughs as possible, A’Hearn tells a story that is classy, tasteful, and filled with family values. In less-skilled hands, this is a script that could have easily been camped up and been made, for lack of a better word, dirty. Instead, the result is the beautiful and simple nuance of letting the men’s stories speak for themselves. Mature teenagers could easily be allowed in the audience, and few are likely to be offended with the way that he chooses to tell this story.
Helping to bring that vision to life is the astounding choreography of Christopher Noffke. It is alternatingly silly and sizzling as the script calls for, but it is never gratuitous. The choreography is also seamlessly highlighted with a beautiful lighting design by Phil Carlucci.
Still, all these stunning technical elements allow the story and six phenomenal performances to be the real heart of the show. At the center is Jerry Lukowski (Jeremiah Zinger). Jerry is struggling to be a father and keep his son, despite his loss of work and the loss of his marriage. Jerry is also an irresponsible schemer who tends to run and hide or take the easy way out. For Jerry, the plan to strip is originally just a get rich quick scheme. Zinger is able to alternate between obnoxious and loveable, providing the audience with a very real man. He also has a fantastic voice and brings it all together to have the audience rolling in “Big Ass Rock” and tearing up in “Breeze Off the River.”
Jerry’s best friend, Dave (Ian Lane) was probably insecure before losing his job, but he is now paralyzed by his self-concept. This leads to a hilarious moment in a bathroom and a beautiful moment in “You Rule My World” as he sings a gorgeous tenor lament to the woman that he so greatly loves and yet feels he does not deserve. Like Jerry and all the other men, Dave ultimately has to realize that he is his own worst antagonist.
The crazy plan that begins with Dave and Jerry grows to include Malcolm (James Bock), Harold (Devon Clark), Ethan (Tommy McNeal), and Horse (Jerrial Young). Each man gives a unique and outstanding performance. Bock brings heart and compassion to the initially hopeless Malcom’s journey to identity and delivers a touching vocal in “You Walk With Me.” Clark’s portrayal is so simple and effortlessly real as the former supervisor who is desperate to keep the wife and life that he loves. McNeal is absolutely hysterical in his pursuit to dance like Donald O’Connor. His character could have easily morphed into a caricature, but McNeal keeps it real and relatable with finesse. Young brings the house down in “Big Black Man” with his dynamite dance moves and infectious energy and then keeps it real as his character’s doubt also come to life. This insanely talented group of six men complement each other and work together so well that it is impossible to select any one performance that stands above the others. They each know when to step out and shine and when to be part of the ensemble.
As if this is not enough to make for an amazing evening at the theatre, enter Sally Struthers. As the, to put it mildly, eccentric pianist Jeanette, Struthers creates a character who is unforgettable. She shows the amazing gift of perfect timing with every line and movement. She is a delightful ball of energy on the stage and commands the entire room during “Jeanette’s Showbiz Number.”
The rest of the supporting cast is equally strong, and each of them takes their moment and lives it to the fullest. Emily Powers shows the deep conflict between past and future in Pam. Katharine Salsbury is full of love and spunk as Georgie. Vilma Gil comes on strong and then shows her tenderness as Vicki. Salsbury and Gil definitely do not disappoint when they reprise “You Rule My World” and show their ability to compete vocally with the men.
A great comedic bit comes in the brief appearance of Jason J. Michael as Reg. The rest of the ensemble is equally good with every line, spoken or sung, that they add to the story. This is truly professional, regional theatre that is both spectacle and subtlety in the exact right balance. You do not want to miss The Full Monty!
Photos provided by Riverside Dinner Theater
- Jerry Lukowski: Jeremiah Zinger
- Nathan Lukowski: Giuseppi Inserra
- Pam Lukowski: Emily Powers
- Teddy Slaughter: James Shimo
- Dave Bukatinsky: Ian Lane
- Georgie Bukatinsky: Katharine Salsbury
- Harold Nichols: Devon Clark
- Vicki Nichols: Vilma Gil
- Malcolm Macgregor: James Bock
- Molly Macgregor: Carol Hagy
- Ethan Girard: Tommy McNeal
- Noah (Horse) T. Simmons: Jerrial Young
- Jeanette Burmeister: Sally Struthers
- Buddy (Keno) Walsh: David Pope
- Reg Willoughby: Jason J. Michael
- Tony Giordano: Christopher Lamb
- Estelle Genovese: Brianne Boyd
- Susan Hershey: Elizabeth C. Butler
- Joanie Lish: Kimberly Knight
- Didi Mclean: Kylie Clark
- Delores Lingenfelter: Stefannie Smith
- Conductor/Keyboard I: Scott Richards
- Keyboard II/Bass: Ralph Davis
- Electric Bass: John Buck
- Trumpet: Jim Ford
- Electric Guitar: Casey Klein
- Percussion: David Long
- Percussion: Zach Ware
- Producer: Rollin E. Wehman
- Director: Patrick A’Hearn
- Musical Director: Jason J. Michael
- Choreographer: Christopher Noffke
- Scenic Design: Brian C. Barker
- Costume Design/Coordination: Gaye Law
- Technical Director/Lighting Design: Phil Carlucci
- Scenic Artist: Matthew P. Westcott
- Production Manager: Carole Shrader
- Stage Manager: Ben Feindt
- Assistant Stage Manager: Ashton Banks
- Senior Stage Technician: Steve Thompson
- Stage Technicians: Matt Brunhofer, Kevin Cleary, Geoff McPherson, Analisa Wall, Kendric Walpole, David Zimmerman
- Senior Lighting Technician: Nicky Mahon
- Lighting Technician: Kathryn Moncure
- Senior Audio Technician: Joshua Watson
- Wardrobe Supervisor: Gaye Law
- Senior Wardrobe Assistant: Teresa Cundiff
- Costume Master/Wig Stylist: Christopher Hlusko
- Costume Tech Swing: Sally Roehl
- Master Set Carpenter/Welder: Curtis Craddock
- Master Electrician: Nicky Mahon
- Head Rigger: Paul Johannes
- Master Scenic Artist: Matthew Westcott
- Scenic Painter/Set Carpenter: Maria Duke
- Properties Supervisor: Kylie Clark
- Set Dresser: Stefannie Smith
Disclaimer: Riverside Dinner Theatre provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/9276.
Jennifer Gusso has been involved in theatre in the state of Maryland and DC for most of her life. She has acted, directed, choreographed, stage managed, and held a million other odd jobs. She has a B.S. in English from Towson University, and is currently pursuing her Master's Degree to become a Reading Specialist. She is a Maryland State Certified English, Theatre, Elementary, and Mathematics Educator. After teaching English and Drama for many years, she now teaches 6th grade Language Arts at Magnolia Middle School in Harford County, Maryland. She wrote the curriculum currently used in Prince George’s County Public Schools for Drama I and Drama II. She now writes and directs plays and musical for use in church.