Will They or Won’t They? THE FULL MONTY at Forge Theatre

by Walter Bender

The term “Full Monty” has become a recognizable slang term, thanks in no small part to the 1997 movie, and the subsequent Americanized stage musical, appropriately named THE FULL MONTY. The musical takes place in Buffalo NY, where the steel mills are no longer running, and many of the men who worked there are out of work. Jerry Lukowski (Carey Rumpf) and Dave Bukatinsky (a solidly funny Brian Schwartz) collect unemployment checks and express their frustrations at not being able to work. Elsewhere, Dave’s wife Georgie (Janine Weiss) hosts a performance by the Chippendales at a local club. Slipping into the club’s restroom, Jerry and Dave overhear the women express their sadness and frustration with their men, as well as Jerry’s ex-wife Pam (Denise Webb) telling her friends that she is taking Jerry to court to collect back child support payments for their son Nathan (Carter Niness.) After the women leave, the men meet and talk to one of the dancers (Paul Bigas) and Jerry decides to get his own group of male strippers together, with the intent to make enough to pay his back support. They subsequently are joined by Malcolm (Jason Gagliardi), a security guard at the mill who is living with his mother, and Harold (Lew Osterhoudt), their former foreman who has hidden his unemployment from his wife Vicki (Renee Schultz.) Harold reluctantly agrees to be the group’s choreographer. Subsequent auditions net them “Horse” (Greg Morton) the “Big Black Man” who is hired for his knowledge of dance moves in spite of his advancing arthritis, and Ethan (Troy Cooper), who aspires to dance like Donald O’Connor is “Singing in the Rain” yet only succeeds in crashing into walls…yet is hired because of his jaw-dropping “asset.” Also appearing at the audition is Jeanette (Regina De Paolis), a seen-it-all musician who appears with her own piano and accompanies the boys. As they rehearse, and as the deadline approaches, will they pull it together? And, will they indeed go Full Monty as they promise?

This is a solid production. The direction by Wendy Mirto keeps things moving along, the cast is having a lot of fun performing this show, and the music is infectious. Rumpf shows the angry bitter side of Jerry well, and Schwartz sparkles as Dave. Osterhoudt has a twinkle in his eye and shows his acting and singing skills as Harold. De Paolis is hilarious as Jeanette. All the voices blend beautifully, and the musical direction by Denise Wisneski is very solid. Choreography by Renee Schulz is well done, accenting the relative skills of the performers.

The final scene is a show-stopper…the cast has a great deal of fun as “Hot Metal” (the newly coined name for the male strippers) and the ladies enjoy the show. Does the cast go “full monty?” Go to Forge and see for yourself.

Musical, Book by Terrence McNally, Music and Lyrics by David Yazbek
Directed by Wendy Mirto, Musical Direction by Denise Wisneski
June 6-29, 2014
Forge Theatre
241 First Avenue
Phoenixville, PA 19460
(610) 935-1920


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