Review: Patty Nolan’s 4 star review of The Full Monty

Patty Nolan, Detroit Theater Examiner

 The Bonstelle Theatre concludes its 60th season with the playful musical comedy The Full Monty, by Terrence McNally and David Yazbek, based on the film of the same name.The show was selected in response to popular demand based on surveys conducted the previous year, and the packed, opening-night audience was not disappointed.

This musical follows six unemployed, desperate steelworkers from Buffalo who decide to perform a one-night-only strip dance to make some extra cash. Ultimately, to differentiate themselves from the professional club dancers, these ‘real men’ realize that they must go ‘all the way’ – and give ladies in the audience ‘The Full Monty.’

Jason Cabral (Jerry Lukowski ), Cal Schwartz (Dave Bukatinsky) and Adam Crinson (Malcolm MacGregor) prepare to deliver 'The Full Monty.' Credit: Robert Lima

For all of the salacious imagery, the story is essentially about self-esteem, gender roles under siege, and the importance of loving people for who they are … or perhaps, who they want to be.

Director Michael Barnes encouraged his cast to take risks and ‘bare it all’ on stage in order to help audiences empathize with the plight of their characters.

‘The men in this show are the blue collar workers who are down on their luck,’ says Barnes. ‘The people of Detroit can really connect with the messages presented in this story.’

Fans of the WSU theatre program will enjoy this mash-up showcasing some of the best players from the Bonstelle, Studio and Hilberry companies. It’s a terrific ensemble show. Notably, 3rd-year students Jason Cabral (Jerry Lukowski) and Alan Ball (Harold Nichols) appear in lead roles, lending this Full Monty the authenticity and polish that are Hilberry hallmarks.

The music for this show ranges from naughty to nice, but is always a treat, with a live orchestra directed by Jeremy Ryan Mossman.  Choreography by WSU professor Nira Pullin emphasizes the comedic limitations of the ‘non-pro’ would-be-strippers while giving the audience plenty to admire (including, of course, more than a few ‘full moons’).

Above all, this is a funny show.  The laughs are frequent and generous. And if you plan to see it, get your tickets now, because shows are already starting to sell out.

The Full Monty runs from April 15 to April 23, 2011. Advance ticket sales are available at the Wayne State Theatre Box Office, located at 4743 Cass (corner of Hancock), or by phone at (313) 577-2960. For more information and tickets visit the Bonstelle website.

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