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The Full Monty

Photo of (L to R) Scott McLean as Ethan, Milton Craig Nealy as Horse, Jim Newman as Jerry, Eric Leviton as Dave, Alan Swadener as Malcolm and Brian Kelly as Harold.
DL to R) Scott McLean as Ethan,
Milton Craig Nealy as Horse,
Jim Newman as Jerry, Eric Leviton as Dave,
Alan Swadener as Malcolm
and Brian Kelly as Harold.
Photo: P. Switzer
The stage production of The Full Monty is one of those rare instances where tampering with a successful movie has created an adaptation not only better suited for live entertainment, but one that is in many ways more satisfying and accessible than the original.

Right from the get go, when Georgie Bukatinsky gets the audience—particularly the women—wound up over the striptease act of a Chippendale knock-off, it's clear that this will be a no-holds-barred raucous gala leading to the impossible full-frontal conclusion.

Photo of (L to R) Sarah Rex as Joanie, Heather Fortin Rubald as Estelle, Valerie Hill as Susan and Anita Boland as Georgie.
(L to R) Sarah Rex as Joanie,
Heather Fortin Rubald as Estelle,
Valerie Hill as Susan
and Anita Boland as Georgie.
Photo: P. Switzer
And between the innuendos, frank discussions, and spirited performances, this production goes a long ways toward delivering the expected punch, with a couple of exceptions. Given the working-class, average Joe and Jane Doe storyline—with encouragement directed towards all shapes, sizes, and colors of bodies—one could argue that some of the less than stellar singing voices were by design, to fit with the spectrum of physiques. But honestly, we know that this is not what we should expect. Also, there are a couple of tentative secondary performances that call attention to themselves.

Yet the sheer determination of the characters to overcome the decaying momentum of their rust-belt community is heartwarming, and the suspenseful build-up to the much anticipated and well-executed defining moment delivers on the story's reputation as good-natured and poignant entertainment.

Photo of Jim Newman as Jerry.
Jim Newman as Jerry.
Photo: P. Switzer
Jim Newman cuts a sympathetic figure as Jerry Lukowski, the down-and-out unemployed dad behind on his child support payments; Gayle Holsman, as his ex-, maintains a delicate balance between sympathetic old friend and bitchy cash-short mother attempting to get on with her life; Eric Leviton as Dave Bukatinsky, Larry's best friend, is the model of a depressed, overweight schlep; and Anita Boland is a firecracker with a heart of gold as Georgie, Dave's sex-starved wife. And there are two dozen more characters that fill out Buffalo's answer to the bake sale.

The six-piece orchestra keeps things hopping, and Joseph J. Egan's industrial sets sparkle with realism.

The Arvada Center's production of The Full Monty runs through July 31st. 720-898-7200.

Bob Bows

 

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