By Bridgette M. Redman
For a musical about going all the way, “The Full Monty” fell just short of the goal.
Oh, the actors take their clothes off and the women whoop it up while watching them, but the lead actors lacked volume and much of their lyrics did not carry over the orchestra. The musical also needed a stronger directorial hand, especially in the second half where better timing would have made for a more interesting story.
The musical itself remains one that is fun, relevant and touching even amid strong language and nudity. The six main men in “The Full Monty” are trying to figure out who they are as they deal with unemployment and the relationship stresses that go along with it. Desperate to raise money and earn back the attention of the women in their lives, they decide to put on a one-night strip show. When they get a ho-hum response from the women who just saw the Chippendales perform, they announce that they’re going to go the full monty and strip down completely.
The actors chosen for each role look the part from the lanky Dave Sucharski who plays Jerry Lukowski to the heavyset Chad Tallon who plays Dave Bukatinsky. They look much younger than the roles they are playing, but given that they are described as being immature, it works. They also move great, but for a musical, they lack the vocal power necessary to carry off the roles. When they are belting, they can be heard. In the more sensitive moments or the times when the lyrics get complex, they’re not able to project them over the orchestra into even the front of the auditorium.
Ryan McDonald as Malcolm, an unemployed mill worker who lives with his sick mom, and Dick Baker as Ethan Girard, another lonely mill worker, are also endearing throughout and are most effective when not singing. Their voices blend in a lovely fashion when they perform the duet “You Walk With Me,” though McDonald appeared to be straining with the solo portion of it.
Director Kevin Halpin rushed McDonald and Baker through those moments where they would discover their feelings for each other, and it was left too ambiguous. They weren’t given the time to discover their sexuality in a second act that proceeded at a steady, assembly line pace with no thought for variety in pacing. Halpin needed to give his characters more time to discover things and respond to their discoveries.
Halpin’s choreography, on the other hand, was interesting and engaging. The first act ended with the high energy “Michael Jordan’s Ball,” which showcased the true talent of the actors who had been playing characters who were amateurs.
The women were uniformly good with strong voices and beautiful character work. Katie Quigley played Jerry’s ex-wife, doing an excellent job of showing how much she still cared for him while being completely fed up with his behavior and irresponsibility. Elizabeth Jaffe’s Vicki Nichols, the woman who adores how her husband spoils her, was ebullient and vivacious. Neither she nor Amy Lamberti’s Georgie Bukatinsky got nearly the time they needed to show their strong, loyal sides in the second act, but they were very commanding for the stage time they did receive.
“The Full Monty” remains a spirited musical with great music and an uplifting story line. The Tibbits Opera House production never rose above the amateur level in anything but the dancing and the set changes. The singing volume and the pacing kept the musical from reaching its potential and providing its audience with a moving experience.
‘The Full Monty’
Tibbits Summer Theatre, 14 S. Hanchett St., Coldwater. Wednesday-Saturday through July 16. Contains adult themes and language. $24-$26. 517-278-6029. http://www.tibbits.org