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Oct 16, 2005 - "The Full Monty" plays Reno where the full "Montessa" has been raging for years
By Jack Neal
Reno probably didn't invent topless shows but it certainly became famous
Compared to Greg Thompson's topless "Bareback," now at Harrah's Reno,
"The Full Monty," the 1997 British movie, is but a mere ripple in a sea
of public nudity. That's also the case with the musical "The Full Monty"
which opened at Reno's Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts Friday
night (10/14/05 before a large crowd eager to see it all.
Watching out-of-work, mostly out-of-shape men take a page out of the
Chippendale's book of bare flesh to raise needed money for their
families is a fun and sweet idea. Unfortunately those charms are
sandwiched among some tedious moments. What "The Full Monty" is, is a
one-joke show that takes the better part of three hours getting to its
Terrence McNally's book is part of the problem. "The Full Monty" can't
make up its mind whether it wants to be a musical comedy or "Death of a
Salesman." Obviously a musical comedy, those moments towards the show's
resolution that deal with death, gay love and what's really important in
life, are - as they say in court - put out for an audience (the jury) to
swallow (and quickly) without ever having been properly established. It
takes motivation and a bit of time before touching soundbites can be
Some of Mr. McNally's writing is laced with humor and that's a plus.
Another plus, some of composer/lyricist David Yazbek's lyrics are witty,
even if the show's score lacks being memorable. The lovely song "You
Walk With Me" is an exception and is the show's one song that allows a
performer to actually sing and Steve DuBryne (Malcolm) sings it
A big drag, which places an added burden on singers, is the show's
excellent six piece pit band. It just doesn't have enough horses to
flesh out the ultra-thin orchestrations. The sound coming from the pit
is strip-joint sound which - under the circumstances - has its point,
but... Not that members of the cast aren't up to the challenge of
singing over something that's not much. They are. When given a chance,
the show's twenty-something cast members sound like they can sustain a
note and project an excellent sound.
Even though there's such a scattering of characters making bonding
negligible, the cast is uniformly excellent and works well together.
Jeremiah Zinger (Jerry) is, ostensibly, "The Full Monty's" star. He's
onstage more than anyone else, and - save for an occasional sing-song
delivery of lines - he's a class act. His singing of "Breeze Off the
River" is one of "Monty's" lovelier moments. Joe Coots (Dave) is Jerry's
heavyset sidekick and he more than holds up his end of the bargain.
Jerry's boy, Nathan, is managed wonderfully by Connor Austin Jones (at
some performances by Caden Michael Gray). Nathan's mom, Pam, is brought
off with assurance by Lindsay Thomas. Penny Larson (Jeanette), the piano
player with the heart of gold, is perfectly cast.
The pizzazzy Happy McPartlin (Georgie) shifts matters into high gear the
moment "Monty" opens. A muscular and ripped Travis Dixon (Buddy the
Chippendale) gets the show off to even more of a flying start by showing
off nearly all his wares. If stripping is an art, then Mr. Dixon is an
artist. Gary Brintz (Ethan), the chap who wants to repeat Donald
O'Connor's "Make 'em Laugh" routine from "Singin' In the Rain," is a
perpetual delight. In a nifty attention-getting role Troy Scarbrough
(Horse) knows how to make the most of his moments in the spotlight. As
the Nichols, Kristin Stewart (Vicki) and Chris George (Harold) are
standouts, as are all in this talented cast.
Keith Andrews direction is swift enough to satisfy. Jim Osorno's
choreography is adequate, which is what it should be, and - at the
show's highly anticipated grand finale - sizzling in an amateur way and
oodles of fun. John Coffey's music direction keeps things moving. Mark
T. Simpson's pin-point lighting lets an audience see what it should and
not see what it shouldn't. John Arnone's scenic designs are functional
and unobtrusive. Robert Morgan's costumes (or lack of them) do what they
need to do.
An adult show, "The Full Monty" is neither particularly crude nor
erotic. When it's at its best, what it can be is endearing and sweet.
"The Full Monty" can be seen at the Pioneer Center For the Performing
Arts, 100 South Virginia Street, Reno, Nevada, Friday (10/14/05) at 8
p.m., Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m. and Sunday (10/16) at 2 and 7 p.m. For
information call 775-686-6600.
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