Desperate times lead to 'The Full Monty'
Diverse men team up for wild performance
Take a half-dozen unemployed men, add a bit of desperation and a plan to bare all to earn some quick cash, put it all to music and you've pretty much got the plot for the Tri-Valley Repertory Theatre's "The Full Monty," now playing at the Bankhead Theater in Livermore.
But the whole is more than the sum of the parts. Todd Carver does a great job anchoring the cast as Jerry Lukowski, an out-of-work steel worker in Buffalo, anxious to bring in some money to keep his son, Nathan (Max Desantis).
To do so, he drags his portly pal Dave Bukatinski (Marty Newton) along for the ride, despite his misgivings about being overweight. Along the way, the pair befriends Malcolm MacGregor (Ryan Cowles) when they save his life, leading to the song "Big A** Rock," in which Lukowski and Bukatinski dream up novel ways to help MacGregor kill himself.
Looking for someone to teach them to dance, the trio finds itself in a dance studio with former boss Harold Nichols (Elmer Strasser), who's been laid off as well but has been lying to his wife Vicki (Suzie Shepard) for the last six months. When they threaten to spill the beans, Nichols agrees and becomes the fourth dancer.
Holding auditions for two more dancers brings in Jeanette Burmesiter (Belinda Mahoney) as a wisecracking world-weary piano player, who threatens to steal the show. Two more dancers are added, with Lavale-William Davis as "Horse" Simmons in the number "Big Black Man," and Daniel Quezada as Ethan Girard, hired more for his endowment than for being able to dance.
They know they're no Chippendale dancers, so to sell tickets, Lukowski promises to go where the Chippendales won't: totally nude -- "The Full Monty."
Julia Etzel turns in a solid performance as Georgia Bukatinski, Dave's unsuspecting wife, as do Shepard and Sue Claire Jones as Lukowski's ex.
Songs of note include "You Rule My World," in which Dave serenades his belly while Harold serenades his wife; "Michael Jordan's Ball," where the men learn to dance by imitating the basketball great; and "The Goods," in which the men face their shortcomings while being taunted by specters of women.
Also of note is the performance of the orchestra, led by Jo Anne Fosselman, and Kevin Hammond's choreography, as well as the direction of John Maio, whose recent work for the TVRT includes "Annie," "The Producers" and "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels." Producer is Kathleen Breedveld; vocal director is Evan Alparone.
So, will the guys go "The Full Monty"? You'll have to see for yourself.
Performances run through Feb. 3, with 8 p.m. shows on Friday and Saturday nights and 2 p.m. Sunday matinees. The Bankhead Theater is at 2400 First St.
"The Full Monty" is rated R for adult language and situations.
For tickets, visit the box office, call 373-6800, or go to www.trivalleyrep.org.