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The Full Monty, book by Terrence McNally, music and lyrics: David Yazbek

Noah ‘Horse’ Simmons (Albert Hodge) wows his audition

Bay Area Musicals stages the musical, The Full Monty (originally an award-winning British film), at the iconic Victoria Theatre in San Francisco’s Mission District though March 15.  The Victoria is the perfect venue in which to stage this show.  Built in 1908, it began its existence as a burlesque house in the days when buresque not only featured strippers, but comics, variety, movies and musical acts-in other words- vaudeville.  The Full Monty’s stunning cast features James Schott as Jerry Lukowski; Chris Plank as Dave Bukatinsky, Briel Pomerantz as Georgie Bukantinsky.  Christopher Apy, an middle school honors student, martial arts Black Belt and jazz musician does excellent work as Nathan Lukowski, Jerry’s son; and Desiree Juanes, his wife, Pam. Despite being a comedy, the musical also touches on serious subjects such as unemployment, father’s rights, depression, impotence; homosexuality, body image, working class culture, and suicide which are issues prevalent even today.

Nathan (Christian Apy) encourages his dad Jerry (James Schott) to perform.

The story follows six men whose lives are near ruin because the steel mills have shut down in Buffalo, New York, and they are out of work.  Lukowski owes child support to ex-wife, Pam; his co-workers all face similar obligations,  Some have resorted to illegal activities to earn money.  They get the idea to earn money by forming a strip routine once their wives demonstrate their enthusiasm for a touring Chippendale show.   Also, they meet Buddy “Keno” Walsh, a professional male stripper who has just performed his successful routine (a terrific Julio Chavez).  He becomes their dance instructor. Yet, they take some convincing to go through with it, mainly because of embarrassment as they feel their bodies aren’t “sexy” or physically attractive. Who wants to see a fat guy in a “G” string?

A tender moment between dancers Ethan (Stephen Kanaski) and Malcolm (Jackson Thea).

One experiences the reality of the location with Matthew McCoy’s scenic deigns, working with set consultant and technical director Stewart Lyle, and Tom O’Brien as properties designer.  Lighting and Sound bring all to life thanks to Eric Johnson and Anton Hedman.  Frank Cardinale ad Harley Green, keep everything moving along as assistant stage managers.

Still, throughout, the musical clearly is not a downer, but a rousing testimony to working-class people’s resilience and inventiveness.  The cast belts out spirited and enthusiastic vocals to the upbeat-for the most part- numbers  performed by Jonathan Salazar on guitar, Kyle Wong, bass; Kirk Duplantis, drums; John Conway and John Gallo on keyboards 1 and 2, under the direction of  Jon Gallo.  Working with six men of various body types and bringing it off, credit goes to Leslie Waggoner as director and choreographer. She has worked on other musicals for BAM in the past (“Hairspray” and “Wedding Singer”.)  Full-voiced Michelle Ianiro as Jeanette Burmeister  opens Act Two, accompanied by the men, with the inspiring “Jeannette’s Showbiz Number”.   Ianero is also double cast as Molly, a totally different character.  Standouts are  “big Black Man” sung by Horse (Albert Hodge) and Jerry (James Schott); and the thoughtful, “You Walk With Me” with Malcolm and Ethan.  The Final number “Let it Go,”  sung by the entire company, had the audience on its feet.  Theatergoers are titillated in anticipation of seeing the men go “the full monty” .  See for yourself. I highly recommend it.

For tickets and information, go to: info@bams.org; call 415-340-2207.

The Full Monty plays tomorrow night, Thursday Feb 27-Friday Feb 28: 7:30 PM, Sat. Feb 29, 2 and 8PM; Sun, March 1, 2 PM.  Thurs-Fri March 5-6, 7:30; Sats. March 7 and 14, 2 and 8PM.  Thurs-Fri, Mar 12 and 13; 7:30 PM;  Sun, Mar 15, 2PM.

Transportation: BART 16th & Mission;  Muni #14, 49 and # 22 Fillmore; #33 Ashbury.  Parking lot nearby, street parking: sketchy.

 

 

 

 

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