Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Full Monty

Book by: Terrence McNally
Music & Lyrics:  David Yazbek
Company:  Boulder's Dinner Theater
VenueBoulder's Dinner Theatre,  5501 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder CO
Running Time:  2 hours, 45 minutes (includes 15 minute intermission)
Date of Performance:  Saturday, September 21, 2013

I suspect that few among us have not seen the 1997 film version of The Full Monty.  It was a surprise hit that year, partly because it portrayed male strippers in delicate detail.  The real charm of the film, however, was the six unemployed steel workers who faced daunting challenges and overcame them, proving themselves both provocative and responsible citizens, fathers and husbands.
The stage version of The Full Monty deviates somewhat from the original (the six British steelworkers are now from Buffalo NY), but the script still tells the story of six regular guys who have the courage to do whatever it takes to put food on the table.  The stage version also differs in format; its a musical.  Music in the film was more about the dancing than the story telling.
Boulder's Dinner Theatre production is an eye popping, high energy triumph of regular guys over desperate circumstances.  The fun starts in the opening scene as the female ensemble is hooting, hollering, and gawking at a gorgeous male stripper (Jason Vargas).  It takes about a millisecond for the audience to join in the fun, clapping, yelling, and escalating the estrogen fueled mischief.
Director Scott Beyette has assembled a fine cast, starting with Seth Caikowski as Jerry.  Jerry lost his job at the steel mill, and is about to lose his son Nathan (Thomas Russo) because he's behind in his child support.  Caikowski deftly handles the huge dramatic range from desperation to inspiration with seeming ease.  
Joel Adam Chavez, (Dave), delivers exactly the right performance for all us regular guys, as he struggles with his body image issues and his need for validation as a husband and lover.  Chavez carries a few extra pounds to the stage and he can't imagine showing his "goods" to 1,000 screaming women.  Chavez got my sympathy, my empathy, and finally my delight when he triumphantly demonstrated how sexy regular guys can be.
Robert Johnson's performance as he auditioned for the stripper gig is a total showstopper.  Big Black Man is great music, great lyrics ("every woman's fantasy is a big black man"), and when done by Johnson, a laugh out loud masterpiece.  Johnson brings a big bass voice and some fabulous dance moves to the party, whipping the audience into a frenzy.
Perhaps the best musical moment in the show (OK, the guys are fully dressed, so this is debatable) is the tune Michael Jordan's Ball.  Matthew D. Peters' choreography is superb, and the cast pulls off the precision moves as if, well, they are actually Michael Jordan.  It's a beautiful moment; the regular guys find a way to "fake, spin, and shoot," opening the door for the novices to become real dancers.  
Scenic Designer Amy Campion has constructed a beautiful, functional set that includes bringing an actual automobile on stage.  She gives us set pieces for bedrooms, street scenes, and both on stage and back stage at a strip club.  All are well done and create a real sense of place in each case.
The Full Monty is a musical, and Neal Dunfee leads a great orchestra here.  They play from behind a wall, which is unfortunate.  They deserve to be front and center, so we can see as well as hear them.  It's the music that makes a musical, and Dunfee and crew are masters of the genre.
For those who have seen the movie, you may be wondering about the "finale" of the stage show.  Do they do the "the full monty?"  You'll have to find a spoiler somewhere else.  I will say this, however.  You will NOT be disappointed.  The finale is the female fantasy (and a male fantasy as well), that you bought the ticket for.  As a bonus, the actors are also your servers.  I doubt that many of us have ever come to know our waiters this well.
If I have any criticism of The Full Monty, it is not with the production but with the script.  The play is about (or at least should be about) the dancing; a fair amount of the music was for story telling rather than dancing.  The ballads slow the pace.  At 2 hours and 45 minutes, The Full Monty could be better with less music, more dancing and faster pacing.
The bottom line here, though is that The Full Monty is a hit; it's a fun, entertaining, inspiring production in the best tradition of Boulder's Dinner Theater.  Get a ticket, get to The Full Monty, and cut loose.  Bring your husband, your wife, your girlfriend, your boyfriend, or any other consenting adult.  It's your chance to get a strip club experience without going to a seedy night club on East Colfax.

For obvious reasons, this show is rated R.  It contains adult language and adult situations.  
Boulder's Dinner Theatre was closed by floods in earlier this month, and had to cancel five performances.  They are now back in full operation.  If you want to do something for flood victims, support Boulder's Dinner Theatre.  Like the characters in The Full Monty, Boulder's Dinner Theatre has triumphed when times got difficult.  The show must, and does, go on.
As usual, you will find the dinner selections at Boulder's Dinner Theatre varied and delicious.  
This show closes on November 9, 2013.  
Photo Credits:  Boulder's Dinner Theatre

Producer:  Michael J. Duran
Director:  Scott Beyette
Scenic Design:  Amy Campion
Audio Design:  Wayne Kennedy
Lighting Design:  Rachael Dugan
Costume Design:  Linda Morken
Choreographer:  Matthew D. Peters

Jerry:  Seth Caikowski 
Dave:  Joel Adam Chavez
Harold: Scott Beyette
Ethan:  Burke Wilson
Malcolm:  Brett Ambler
Horse:  Robert Johnson
Nathan:  Thomas Russo/Kaden Hinkle
Pam:  Alicia Dunfee
Georgie:  Amanda Earls
Vicki:  Joanie Brosseau
Jeanette:  Shelly Cox-Robie
Teddy:  Matthew D. Peters/Bob Hoppe
Keno:  Jason Vargas
Reg/Tony:  Scott Severtson
Susan/Molly:  Tracy Warren
Joanie:  Jessica Hindsley
Estelle: Norelle Moore


  1. Agree this was a great production, the 3rd 'Full Monty' I've seen and perhaps the best.

  2. Alex:

    Thanks again for the feedback. They have done some great stuff at BDT...more than they usually get credit for.

    Dinner theaters routinely produce safe content. They have to fill the seats to pay the bills. BDT has shown a strong tendency to take risks. "Full Monty" may be offensive to some of their demographic, as is/was "Avenue Q." They cast a disabled woman as "Cinderella" last year, and her sisters were drag queens. For that, they get a HUGE amount of respect from me.