by Lorie Lewis Ham
The Fresno premiere of the musical The Fully Monty hit the stage this past weekend at the Dan Pessano Theater at Clovis North High School. I had seen the preview articles and saw the hype about “will they bare it all or won’t they” (something you will have to go to the show to find out), but I really had no idea what I was about to see on Saturday evening. The room was abuzz and one other patron said to me with a smile, I’m both excited and scared to see this–and I could relate.
The Full Monty is an Americanized musical stage version adapted from the 1997 British film of the same name. In the musical, a bunch of steel workers in Buffalo have lost their jobs and been out of work for awhile. One night two of them, best friends Jerry (James Schott) and Dave (Jeff Lusk), find themselves outside of a club where Dave’s wife and Jerry’s ex wife are enjoying a touring show by the Chippendales. They are both desperate to make some money and feel like men again, and Jerry is also desperate for money so that he doesn’t lose joint custody of his son Nathan (Rhys Avants). So Jerry comes up with a plan to do a strip show of their own–because in his mind if women will pay all this money to see the Chippendales, they would pay even more to see “real” men strip. Dave is hesitant, as they are both out of shape, but let’s Jerry talk him in to the scheme.
While working out to prepare for the show, the guys run into another former co-worker, Malcolm (Dominic Grijalva), who is now a nighttime security guard at their old place of work. They discover that while he still technically has a job, he hates it and he too is miserable. Their song together, “Big-Ass Rock,” while very dark, turned out to be one of the funniest songs in the show. It is also very sweet and heartbreaking all at the same time.
Next, they go see their former foreman Harold (Chris Mangels) because he knows how to dance and they want him to teach them. Harold too is miserable, as he is afraid of his wife finding out that he also lost his job.
Malcolm and Harold join the dance group and they set out to hold auditions for the rest of the group as they feel they need to have six guys. The auditions bring to the group Ethan (Aaron Pierce), who is a lovable dork (who has a hilarious bit throughout the rest of the show), and “Horse” (LaRon Lee Hudson), who though old, proves to be very talented. We are also introduced at this point to their accompanist Jeanette (Tessa Cavaletto), who has come out of her retirement from entertainment to help them after learning of their story–she is quite the character.
The plot lends itself to a bunch of crazy, funny moments and songs. This may be one of the funniest shows I’ve ever seen, while at the same time having some wonderful sweet real life moments in it as well–between the men, between Jerry and his son, between Dave and his wife Georgie (Meg Clark), and Harold and his wife Vicki (Julie Lucido). My absolute favorite song in the show is a sweet, unexpected one between Malcolm and Ethan called, “You Walk with Me,” that was absolutely beautiful. The show also addresses the issue of body image, in this case for men, and deals with an issue many of us can relate to–losing your job and what that can do to your life and your family.
I can say without hesitation yet again–a StageWorks Fresno show never lets you down! Major kudos to director Joel Abels! Everything about this show is top notch–the set, the acting, the orchestra, the whole package! There is some great singing, some excellent acting, and a whole lot of just plain fun! It will make you laugh until you cry, and at times just make you cry.
I highly recommend that you don’t miss this show, and tickets are going fast so hurry! As you can probably guess it is definitely not a family show, so grab a babysitter for the kids and head out for some fun! As to the question again of will they or won’t they go “Full Monty”-well you will just have to find out for yourself!
The Full Monty runs through August 6 at the Dan Pessano Theater, 2770 E. International Ave. in Fresno, CA . Tickets can be purchased on the StageWorks Fresno website!
You can find more theatre articles, and other entertainment articles, in our Arts & Entertainment section.
Thank you so much