Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Oh No They Didn't! The Full Monty at NCT

Photo: Marilyn Scanlon
The minute the lights go down for the New Candlelight Theater's production of The Full Monty, you're transported from the big barn in Ardentown to a nightckub in Buffalo -- and it's Ladies' Night. Rarely does the line between watching a play and actually experiencing what's happening in the play disappear so quickly and completely.

Most of The Full Monty, directed by NCT's Producing Artistic Director, Chris Alberts, doesn't take place on the nightclub stage, but those scenes are no less engaging. Based on the popular 1997 British film of the same name, the musical follows a group of out-of-work steel workers desperate to make ends meet, who turn to stripping -- one night only -- in the hopes of making $50,000. The stakes are high: Jerry (Paul Goodman) is behind in child support payments, and could lose joint custody of his son (Timmy Bradford); Dave (David T. Snyder) feels so inadequate that his marriage to Georgie (Erienne Poole) is crumbling; Harold (Patrick O'Hara) has been pretending go to work as a foreman every day for months while his wife (Erica Scanlon Harr) enjoys a carefree middle class lifestyle; and Malcolm (Peter Briccotto) had given up on life altogether. They join together and recruit Ethan (Chris Brown) and Horse (Andre Dion Wills), who each add certain physical attributes, as well as some great chemistry, to the act, which comes to be called "Hot Metal."

Photo: Marilyn Scanlon
Despite some dark themes, The Full Monty is a full-on comedy. And very good comedy, at that. Composer/Lyricist David Yazbeck doesn't hold back. Sometimes it's racy  (it's a show about male stripping, after all), and sometimes it's dark, as with the number "Big Ass Rock," where Jerry and Dave assure the suicidal Malcolm that they're true friends who would kill him in any number of ways if he asked -- a service that was no longer needed once Malcolm realized he had true friends. There is sweet romance; I won't give all of the romance away for those who haven't seen the movie, but it's all done exceptionally well. The show has its share of poignant moments between laughs.

The cast fit their roles to a T, without exception. Scene stealers included Erica Scanlon Harr (is there ever a show she doesn't steal?) with "You Gotta Love That Man," Andre Dion Wills with "Big Black Man," Peter Briccotto in "Big Ass Rock," and Susan Dewey as Hot Metal's practice pianist and showbiz vet, Jeanette.

Ultimately, we are returned to the nightclub, and Hot Metal's big night. It's a wild show you won't soon forget.

The Full Monty runs through May 22, with special Ladies' Discount Nights on April 15 and 29. This is an adult show -- no one under 17 is permitted. For tickets, click here.

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