by Lila Achuff

Readers, I had way too much fun on opening night and it isn’t right that I should have it all without sharing. Give it up for one night of light entertainment just over the border between PA and DE at the New Candlelight (Dinner) Theatre in Arden, DE… remember I told you about the super shrimp there? Keep in mind that this show is not appropriate for young (under 13) children due to “mature subject matter and language” even though you might be aware of the presence of the character, Nathan (played by 11 year old Timmy Bradford… well done! I’ll remember you when you’re performing at Cab Calloway… yes, I read those things!) He has been trained to not hear or see anything he shouldn’t. Right, Timmy? BTW, I did see the 1997 British film version of the same name; I really knew what I was in for.

"Let it Go"- Chris Baron as Ethan, Paul Goodman as Jerry, David Snyder as Dave, Patrick O'Hara as Harold in New Candlelight Theatre's production of THE FULL MONTY, running in Arden, DE through May 22. (Photo credit: Marilyn Scanlon)

OK, fellas, picture this. You’ve been invited to perform one night in your life as a Chippendale and everyone you know will be there and you will also be singing and dancing (as if you know what you’re doing). And your answer is? No pressure here. Fortunately, you get to allow your imagination run with this as you watch this musical comedy unfold (Broadway, 2000). What else would six union blue-collar workingmen do when they’ve suddenly been let go, have families to support and their respective self-esteem to maintain?

We begin with Jerry Lukowsi (Paul Goodman), father of the handsome 12 year old son, Nathan, and an ex-wife, Pam (Lindsay Mauck), who is threatening Jerry with removal of joint custody of Nathan if he doesn’t come up with the support he owes her. It behooves me to mention here that much of the story centers around the love this father has for his son and the strong connection they have for each other. So don’t be surprised when you see Nathan in many scenes, many of which don’t seem apropos to him being there. But he’s learning many life lessons from being with his dad, not the least of which is personally observing his father’s determination to be responsible and care for his son by “doing the right thing.” Jerry convinces his overweight best bud, Dave (David T. Snyder), to join him in his wild, but well-intentioned, scheme of making big bucks fast. They had witnessed their wives going nuts over a Chippendale-type of show so why not be male strippers themselves and do a one-night only performance and raise mucho money? No problem.

In the comical attempt to find the next victim, I mean potential partner, they meet up with yet another fellow employee, the cutie, Malcolm MacGregor. (So what if I’m old enough to be his grandmother. Think it’s too late for me to start the Peter Bricotto Fan Club?) He can really sing and dances equally well. (Get thee to Broadway.) Did I mention “cute”? (I know. I know. I proof endlessly.)

Next, they “just happen” to wander into a dance studio where they bump into Harold Nichols (Patrick O’Hara), their former boss, who’s happily dancing with his beautiful, sexy wife, Vicky (Erica Scanlon Harr). While Harold and Vicky are sashaying around the dance floor, hips a-swayin’, Jerry and Dave blackmail him into joining them as she doesn’t know hubby is unemployed.

Four down. Now it’s time to hold auditions for two more lucky “performers”.

Enter the rehearsal pianist, brash and brassy Jeanette (Susan Dewey), who’s been around the block a few times. Hold onto your seat as “Horse” Simmons (André Dion Wills) applies, singing “Big Black Man”. It was just downright knee-slappin’, hand-clappin’, whistle-blowin’ funny! Drum roll for #6… Ethan (Chris Brown)… he’s c-r-r-r-azy! Watch these guys as they do an extremely well-choreographed number wherein they show that the moves in dancing are similar to the ones they’re accustomed to when playing basketball. Nothing to it! Angela Bates Majewski, choreographer, excellent!

ACT II finds our men rehearsing for their act to culminate with the “full monty”… the works, the whole enchilada… “full frontal male nudity”! No way! If ACT I wasn’t hilarious enough, when they start rehearsals practicing stripping, the second half … well, just prepare yourself for maybe more laughter than you’re accustomed to in one week, let alone one night.

Remember, we’re talking just regular guys… short, tall, slim, muscular, chunky, lumpy ‘n bumpy… like you! Yes, you!

The sets were well done and deliciously smooth in the transitions. It’s amazing how just the right music helps keep the pace just rolling along. My one suggestion is for the two bedroom scenes where two couples are singing in each scene. I’d like to see a room divider to give me the feeling of seeing two different bedrooms in two different homes while both couples are singing together.

THE FULL MONTY might be a guy thing but there sure was a lot of perfume in the air on opening night, Red Hats included. Ladies, be attentive to the Ladies’ Night or make your own!

There was one catchy tune and how could I forget!

Let it go, let it go …

Until the next show …

Book by Terrence McNally
Music & Lyrics by David Yazbeck
April 8 – May 22, 2011
New Candlelight Theatre
2208 Millers Rd.
Ardentown, DE 19810

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