orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

Entertainment

October 20, 2012

Review: ‘The Full Monty’ is risqué, raw and fun

ORANGE — When Director Brook Doss and her mother, Susan Tiger, went to see a production of “The Full Monty” in Montana, they wondered if Orange could handle this show. The answer is, “Yes!” Orange is hip enough to enjoy a good adult musical comedy.

The play is definitely for mature audiences only and the language and content are risqué and raw. However, looking beyond the “peep show” aspect, the play is about working through fears, self-consciousness, struggling to maintain positive attitudes in bad times and love. Yes, love.

This is an Americanized musical adapted from a British film. Six unemployed Buffalo, New York, steelworkers, low on both cash and prospects, decide to present a strip act at a local club after seeing their wives’ enthusiasm for a touring company of Chippendale male strippers. This production seems very timely in light of our current global financial crises.

Eastwood Almazan is especially good as Jerry Lukowski and carries the show with ease all the way to its climactic end. Always believable in his part, you almost forget he is acting. His singing chops are excellent also. “Bravo” to Almazan!

Child actor, Rhys Howeth, portrays Jerry’s young son Nate. Wow! What a good job he does, never missing a cue or line. He even uses a New York accent in his speech. A star is born!

The always talented Janet Bland plays Jerry’s ex-wife, Pam. She brings realism to her role, along with her usual strong stage presence. Good work, Janet!

Tiffani Hughes and Patrick Dennison as Georgie and Dave Bukatinsky are very good in their roles. They are a married couple who, having grown apart due to their economic woes, manage to find their way back together. Both of these actors do fine jobs singing and acting.

Scene stealers are Tanya Guillote, playing a spoiled wife, who really knows how to belt out a tune and Cornell Thomas as “Horse”, an elderly African American man who gets his mojo back by learning to strip dance.

Spectacular in her role as Jeannette Burmeister, the rehearsal pianist for the strippers, is Codie Vasquez on opening night. This part is double-cast with Anne Lilyquest playing Jeannette at other performances. Codie dresses and speaks with pizzazz as her character encourages the men in their practice sessions. Kudos to Codie!

Special mention goes to Nolan Thornal in his portrayal of Malcolm MacGregor, a mama’s boy who certainly blossoms as the play progresses. He acknowledges  his homosexuality when he falls for another stripper, played by the daring “hunk”, Zech Turk. Nolan singing “You Walk With Me” is the musical highlight of the show. He has a beautiful tenor voice and is to be commended for his work as the Music Director.

Matt Tonkovich, plays his part of Harold Nichols very well. Harold is another stripper, who is an unemployed efficiency expert pretending to go to work to keep his wife from finding out he has lost his job.

The whole play is expertly cast with every part well played. Commendations go to the Director, the “behind the scenes” people, and supporting cast. The characters overcome their inner demons and find strength in their camaraderie. The play is fun and funny.

Theater-goers need to remember that this play is for grown-up audiences only and if their sensibilities are offended by some imaginative, “cheeky” exposure or some strong language, it may not be for them.

“The Full Monty” has several performances remaining: 7:37 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 20; 2:37 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 21; 7:37 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 25 through Saturday, Oct. 27; and 2:37 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 28. Tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for students. For reservations call 409-882-9137 or go on-line at www.orangecommunityplayers.com.

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