BIDDEFORD CITY THEATER LETS IT GO WITH “THE FULL MONTY”

HOT METAL! The cast of Biddeford City Theater's production of THE FULL MONTY. (l-r) Jim Gaddis (Malcolm), Thomas Smallwood (Horse), JP Furey (Ethan), Chris Austin (Jerry), Jonathan Carr (Harold), Ryan Lane (Dave). Audra Hatch photo (www.audrahatch.com).

HOT METAL! The cast of Biddeford City Theater’s production of THE FULL MONTY. (l-r) Jim Gaddis (Malcolm), Thomas Smallwood (Horse), JP Furey (Ethan), Chris Austin (Jerry), Jonathan Carr (Harold), Ryan Lane (Dave). Audra Hatch photo (www.audrahatch.com).

HOT METAL! The cast of Biddeford City Theater's production of THE FULL MONTY (l-r): Jim Gaddis (Malcolm), Jonathan Carr (Harold), Chris Austin (Jerry), Thomas Smallwood (Horse), JP Furey (Ethan), Ryan Lane (Dave). Audra Hatch photo (www.audrahatch.com).

HOT METAL! The cast of Biddeford City Theater’s production of THE FULL MONTY (l-r): Jim Gaddis (Malcolm), Jonathan Carr (Harold), Chris Austin (Jerry), Thomas Smallwood (Horse), JP Furey (Ethan), Ryan Lane (Dave). Audra Hatch photo (www.audrahatch.com).

HOT METAL! Biddeford City Theater's cast of THE FULL MONTY. Audra Hatch photo (www.audrahatch.com).

HOT METAL! Biddeford City Theater’s cast of THE FULL MONTY. Audra Hatch photo (www.audrahatch.com).

July, 2014

When the going gets tough, the tough get….stripping?

Desperate for cash, down on their luck and pondering their lost lives, best friends Jerry Lukowski and Dave Bukatinsky figure they have nothing to lose when they concoct a plan to organize a group of fellow unemployed steel mill buddies into a local male striptease act called Hot Metal and outstrip the Chippendales “but more like a Buffalo (NY) version…more realistic, more masculine.”

By going “the full monty”—stripping all the way—Jerry’s hope is to make $50,000 in one night only—or at least enough to pay child support for his son Nathan and satisfy the demands of his ex-wife Pam.

Such is the premise of The Full Monty, an Americanized musical stage version adapted from the 1997 British film of the same name.   The show opened on Broadway in October 2000 and earned numerous awards and nominations in its 770-show run. With book by Terrence McNally and music and lyrics by David Yazbek, The Full Monty is ready to rumble the stage of Biddeford’s City Theater Friday July 11th-27th.

The audience can undoubtedly predict whether Hot Metal will be able to pull it off (rimshot, Mr. Manning), but it doesn’t matter because from the Overture to the Finale every scene, song and dance is filled with unbridled fun and a buffet of great local talent that makes each waiting moment worthwhile.

It’s still uncertain whether The Full Monty is a guy’s show or a ladies’ show. There’s an abundance of testosterone on display, the language is as real as the pack mentality (watch out for surprise “f-bombs”), and there’s an innate natural sense of appeasement when the beast (in this case, six males with awesome voices) sings in cahoots.

But as compelling as the raw macho jocularity can be, make no mistake that The Full Monty is a remarkable story of real-life struggles, emotional challenges and personal growth, filled with inspiring lessons of accepting who you are, coping with friends and relationships and finding your inner peace in a world of “scrap.”

That’s why it takes an amazing cast (and Director) to effectively manage the rich storylines and diverse attitudes that this production embraces with its wide range of shtick-to-sensitivity.

The six members of Hot Metal perfectly achieve their roles as regular Joes, loved by the audience despite their shortcomings and quirks. Standing O to Chris Austin (Jerry), Ryan Lane (Dave), Jim Gaddis (Malcolm), JP Furey (Ethan), Jonathan Carr (Harold) and Thomas Smallwood (Horse). What further established these Joes as pros were their superb singing talents. These guys can sing and are worth the price of admission alone!

The female significant others deserve equal ranking with their brilliant performances: Ashley Christy (Georgie), Rebecca Cole (Pam) and Sarah Thurston (Vicki).

But for this production, when the envelope is opened, the award will have to go to the awesome ensemble who so impeccably poured out a relentless barrage of wild and wacky characters. Nobody stood out because EVERYBODY stood out. Kudos to Director Linda Sturdivant for that achievement.

The Full Monty can boast a few notable knock-outs: Chris Austin for his incredibly marketable vocal talent, from classic rock to contemporary pop—this guy should be famous; Jim Gaddis, another singer with perfect pipes and great comic timing whose return to the stage is good to see; Sarah Thurston for her uncanny stage skills and consistently successful over-the-top characterizations; and Gretchen Wood, whose divine portrayal as the more-than-mature Vegas marm/rehearsal pianist was a divine blend of Elaine Stritch, Carol Channing and Totie Fields (google it).

Of course the pit rocked! What do you expect when you combine the gifts of Mark West (guitar), Jimmy McGirr (bass), Dana Fisher (trumpet), Ray Libby (Woodwinds) and Bill Manning (Drums/Percussion), all under the musical direction of pianist extraordinaire Denise Calkins.

In some ways, The Full Monty is a parallel to the very essence of community theater, i.e. getting the local community to come out and see friends and neighbors on stage either make a fool of themselves or impress the heck out of you with an award-winning commanding performance.

When this extravaganza hits City Theater, 205 Main St., Biddeford, from July 11th thru July 27th, 2014, don’t miss your chance to find out and to “let it go, let it go.” For tickets and more info visit www.citytheater.org or call the box office at 282-0849.

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–Louis Philippe

 

 

 

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