It seems like just yesterday that New Candlelight Theatre (officially now named The Candlelight Theatre, with a snappy new logo and all) presented THE FULL MONTY, the randy musical based on the British film of the same name. The show premiered at NCT during the 2012 season, and, clearly, was popular enough that it’s been brought back. Maybe it’s because the actors actually go “full monty” (it’s backlit, but there’s full frontal), or maybe it’s a show that draws groups for a tastefully wild evening. In any event, it’s back to kick off the 2014 season.
While several NCT (TCT?) regulars reprise the roles they commanded in the previous production, including David T. Snyder as Dave, Peter Briccotto as Malcolm, Susan Dewey as Jeanette, and Colleen McGinnis as Estelle, this production also features loads of actors making their Candlelight debut, including C.J. Celeiro in the lead as Jerry, Michael Hogan as Horse, and Chris Balbi as the Chippendale stripper Keno (Billy D. Hart, who played Keno in the previous production, now plays “Hot Metal” stripper Ethan, and his new role fits him like a glove).
This musical version of THE FULL MONTY has been relocated from the UK to a working class neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, sometime in the ‘90s, based on references to Michael Jordan and VCRs. The local steel mill has laid off workers, and things are bleak, not least of all for Jerry, who is at risk of losing access to his 12-year-old son (Alexander Ryan, who gets some of the biggest laughs with his expressions alone) if he doesn’t come up with a hefty child support payment. Despite the economic crisis, the ladies in town find a way to drop $50 a pop to see a Chippendale’s show organized by Georgie (wonderfully played by Catherine Logan), wife of the out-of-work Dave. Jerry does the math: 1,000 women times $50 is $50,000, even a partial cut of which is an answer to his prayers. He pieces together a motley group of six laid off workers dubbed Hot Metal, including their former foreman Harold (a spot-on performance by Robert Miller), who has lost his job, too, a fact he’s been hiding from his bubbly wife Vicki (Lindsay Mauk, in her 23rd Candlelight role), who is accustomed to a certain standard of living.
The show isn’t all bawdy, male-stripping humor, though there’s plenty of that. At its heart, it’s a story about a guy who will do anything to be with his son, and Celeiro and Ryan have a great chemistry. There’s new love, as Malcolm and Ethan find each other with “You Walk with Me,” one of the show’s emotional highlights, and sturdy, time-tested love between Dave and Georgie and Harold and Vicki, with the wives assuring their husbands that their love isn’t superficial for the reprise of “You Rule My World.” The show’s nudity shouldn’t be surprising, but the sweetness of these moments might be.
In the end, audiences get what they’re promised: a full six-man strip show featuring “real men,” and nothing left to the imagination. Tastefully done, of course.
THE FULL MONTY
by Terrence McNally
Music and Lyrics by David Yazbek
Directed by Rob Harris
Choreography by Rob Harris
January 25 – March 9, 2014
The Candlelight Theatre
2208b Millers Rd,
Ardentown, DE 19810