The Golden Apple Dinner Theatre’s Full Monty entertains from the rousing beginning.
By Kay Kipling
The Full Monty at the Golden Apple Dinner Theatre (www.thegoldenapple.com) doesn’t waste any time getting your attention. It starts off with a bravura striptease by Jared E. Walker, playing a professional male stripper who turns on the screaming audience members at ladies’ night. The women are hungry for more, and eventually they’ll get it—courtesy of their own husbands and friends, amateurs in the field but with a desperate will to succeed.
You probably know The Full Monty’s basic storyline from the 1997 film version, set in Sheffield, England. Here the out-of-work guys looking to make some money and restore their self-esteem are displaced steel workers in Buffalo, N.Y., and as their introductory song demonstrates, Jerry, Dave, Malcolm, Ethan and the others feel like Scrap. Each has a unique problem: Jerry (David Engel) needs money for child support, Dave (Berry Ayers) is overweight and withdrawn from his worried wife, and Malcolm and Ethan (Steven Flaa and Joey Panek, respectively) have some sexual orientation issues. Unlikely as it might seem, they team up with former plant management exec Harold (Chris George), whose dance expertise they need, to put on a one-night-only show that they hope will net them thousands of dollars—but only if they present the “Full Monty,” i.e., take it all off.
Thanks to a strong cast, lively songs by David Yazbek and Terrance McNally’s often dead-on funny book, The Full Monty entertains right from that rousing beginning. If it doesn’t quite offer the poignancy the film version sometimes did, it certainly offers the laughs. Yazbek’s lyrics are frequently surprising in their direction (take a listen to Big-Ass Rock), and the way the songs are distributed gives just about everyone a chance to shine.
Standouts in the cast are Ayers as Dave, alternating between sneaking candy bars and encasing himself in Saran Wrap to deal with his eating problems; Roberta MacDonald, a natural as show biz trouper Jeanette, who plays piano for the boys; Catherine Randazzo as Harold’s wife, who loves the good life but loves Harold more; and Golden Apple first-timer Oliver Dill, hilarious both before and during his Big Black Man number. And Engel and Alex Vercheski, playing his young son, certainly work to establish an emotional center to the story.
Packed with energy that builds to a satisfying finale (and in case you haven’t seen it before, I won’t give anything more away), The Full Monty is—ahem—worth a look. Probably best for mature audiences, it runs through Nov. 12. For reservations, call (941) 366-5454.