YOU WILL STAND AND CHEER HILLBARNS ROUSING LINE OF MALE STRIPPERS WITH HEART AND SOUL
The Foster City Barn is the perfect stage to host an appealing strip show that is the perfect way for Hillbarn Theatre to close their very successful 77th season. THE FULL MONTY is a big, fun, raunchy evening for the ladies, but the whole family can easily enjoy this romp. The film of the same name was a very successful hit on-screen more than 19 years ago. Hillbarn Artistic director Dan Demers feels this story is the perfect way to end his season “As the final bit of clothing meets the floor we close the book on our 2017 -18 season of stories weave together (why) we’re better together as a community, family, and people”.
Terrence McNally wrote the book, from Simon Beaufoy's original film script, and David Yazdek created the music first in 2000 and then a rival in 2009. It won a Drama Desk award for best musical after a run on the West End. The story based in the 1997 film changed a bit, it is now set in Buffalo, N.Y., the steel mill closes and leaves its workers with no income. Directed by the talented Dennis Lickteig who brings heart and soul to a male based story and adds sparkle to this company with the marvelous acting talent he cast for this musical.
The women of the cast open the story as we become part of a Male strip show featuring the terrific Jepoy Ramos as Keno in the opening club number. The men sing “Scrap” as we meet the unemployed workers that sets the energy of this cast. The wives who are the breadwinners treat themselves to a females only show but still support their men. The wives sing “It’s a Woman's World” from the men's restroom, a perfect way writer McNally works with sexual identity roles in this positive musical. The men of the cast headed by Andy Cooperfauss as the unemployed dad, Jerry Lukowski, trying to keep his son, sings “Man” with his steel mill partner Dave, played marvelously by Christopher Reber. Cooperfauss is a strong lead, who is upstaged by the other accomplished talent in the male company. Brian Palac and James Creer all have bright show stopping moments. Reber who is cast as the out of shape best buddy is heartwarming in the role and his comic timing during his awkward strip dances is charming.
The story follows the film when it comes to the out-of-work steelworkers decision to earn some money creatively by producing a one-night-only strip show suggesting that the “everyman” look will break down the box office. The men awkward lumpy, old, some with bellies and canes, are not Chippendale candidates. Their first dance rehearsal is staged well by Lickteig and Lee Ann Payne who choreographed the show. The clumsy gents are not ready as dancers and nowhere near the notion of taking it all off.
Lickteig’s direction does not compromise the comic timing or the drama of the show. The men support each other, the amazing tenor Brian Palac portrays the sweet Malcolm, who is introduced to the story as Jerry and Dave find him close to death in suicide attempt. A full size car is brought on stage, prop masters Eric and Adria Olson used a real Volkswagen to create the suicide scene. It is very impressive, and the song “Big-Ass Rock” with the three men is excellent, dark yet compassionate for the topic of ending one's life.
The charming James Creer as Horse in a show stopping performance of “Big Black Man” is full of swagger combined with flawless dance moves and vocals. Creer brightens the first act and the show really comes to life as he enters the audition scene. His passion wins him a spot in the strip line, no matter his age. Bradley Satterwhite as the bold Ethan also scores a part in the strip line showing off his more than average sized “Monty” to the delight of the audience. The wise cracking Linda Piccone plays the old wise rehearsal accompanist Jeanette, who sings the entertaining “Jeanette Showbiz Number” and is a delight to watch on stage as she schools the male cast. The splendid ensemble who play other factory workers, wives and friends include Kyle Arrouzet, Jorge Luis Diaz, Brigitte Losey, Jennifer Martinelli, Alfredo Mendoza, Elana Ron, Michelle Skinner, Jay Thulien and the clever Ian Freeman as Amy’s new boyfriend Teddy.
The show does belong to the male cast, but the women are just as strong. The ideal Amy Myers plays Jerry's ex wife Pam who is on top of putting the pressure on to pay up his child support. Glenna Murillo as Dave’s concerned wife Georgie shows class with her talent as the women sing “The Goods”. Adrienne Herro as Harold's wife Vicki, has the finesse and a delightful voice. Herro sings how much she loves her man in “Life With Harold”, she as the rest of the cast all have great voices. Harold played by local favorite Gregory Lynch is brought in by the guys to help them with the moves, and was one of their former bosses back at the mill. Lynch and Herro have great timing as they both deal with unemployment issues as the bank slowly repossesses his home. Jerry’s 12 year old son Nathan is skillfully played by the cute 12 year old Jack Barrett and follows his dad through most of the almost 2 and half hour show. Palac’s second act breathtaking performance of “You Walk with Me” is sterling after he confronts his mom's passing and his sexuality with his dance partner Ethan played with right emotion by Satterwhite. But the battle for young Nathan is the heart of the story and Jerry’s need to raise money to support his son or lose him keeps the show grounded.
Music director Mark Dietrich has a gifted 11 member orchestra, who kept the show moving and the blue strip numbers are the best. The set designed by Kuo-Hao Lo is a very industrial working-class two level factory look that easily turns into a nightclub and back stage settings. Lo also created the closing scene highlight that is always a surprise when you see the show grand anthem song “Let it Go” that is one of the themes of the musical. Light design by Christian Mejia is spot on the sexy strip numbers, then bleek for the factory and that famous closing number is blinding perfect. The effect is important for this finale since it needs to transform into a nightclub that includes the main cast joining the Hillbarn sold out audience to whoop and cheer on the men. Costumes designed by Valerie set the tone for the strip numbers and keeps the look industrial for the men and urban for the wives.
Stage managers Amanda Roccuzzo and Sara Ramos keep the 20 member cast on course as many of the scenes expand out to the Hillbarn audience. Sound designer Danielle Kisner mixed the back stage orchestra well as she creates off stage crowd sounds for the club scenes. As the story ends the men under competition from the real chippendales - need to up their game, in the last minutes to fill their club, they assure the audience they will do the Full Monty. To the delight of their wives and fans - they may or may not reveal their Monty’s. The men's final dance is the gleaming climax to this heartwarming musical. The story is fun and will not offend. You will stand and cheer for the FULL MONTY! Up next at the Hillbarn their 78th season will begin in August with WEST SIDE STORY, and in 2019 the company will present the SF Peninsula regional premier of MAMMA MIA. In the meantime I highly recommend you “Let It Go” and see the hats drop.
Hillbarn Theatre Presents
THE FULL MONTY
MUSIC & LYRICS BY David Yazbek BOOK BY Terrence McNally
Directed by Dennis Lickteig, Music Director Mark Dietrich
Must close May 20th
Hillbarn Theatre, Foster City Ca.
Two Hours and half with one intermission
Tickets and more info click here > www.hillbarntheatre.org
Photo’s by Mark and Tracy Photography
The Full Monty, through May 20, 2018 at Hillbarn Theatre, 1285 East Hillsdale Boulevard, Foster City CA. Tickets are available online at www.hillbarntheatre.org
or by calling 650-349-6411.