Remember the ads for Richard Kiley’s last tour of MAN OF LA MANCHA? “This is your last chance” sounded pretty compelling…and we all went. Thank goodness. Well, I’ve got another “last chance” you mustn’t ignore. This is the last time you can see Steven Michael Key reprise his show stopping turn in THE FULL MONTY. He’s retiring the role at the end of the Turtle Lane run (March 20th)…which is where he first played it by the way, in 2006. He’s nothing short of spectacular (and the rest of the strippers are pretty darn good, too).
If you haven’t seen the musical before (or the cheeky film which inspired it) I should warn you that stripping is integral to the plot. A couple of out-of-work machinists who can’t find a job anywhere decide to do something about it. They see women spending a “girls’ night out” and a fair amount of cash at Chippendale’s so why not get a bunch of their buddies together and put on a show! They may not be as buff as the Chippers but they’re boffo and they’ve got moxie.
Director James Tallach gets hilarious performances with this motley crew of misfits, from Key’s mashed potato/hully gully/frug dancing dynamo to James Fitzpatrick’s bumbling wall flower to Robert Klimeczko’s frenetic wall crasher. There’s a sweet story, too, behind the strip line. James Casey’s character gets to “man up” for his son (Andrew Cekala) and Timothy Lawton’s depressed couch potato gets to impress his wife (Brittany Rolfs) and get back in the game. Lawton has one of the sweetest songs in the show, a duet with Bill Toll, dedicated to their wives (Rolfs and Tracy Nygard). Fitzpatrick gets to show off his impressive range in the gorgeous “You Walk With Me” (duet with Klimeczko) but it’s Key’s naughty “Every Woman Loves A Big Black Man” which brings down the house.
Erik Diaz’ corrugated set is the perfect backdrop for the labor intensive script and Donald Gregorio’s chair slamming/testosterone raising choreography hits all the right notes. Even the women (in Richard Itczak’s finery) look good. Nygard struts her stuff in the sassy “Life with Harold” number but it’s the men who take over center stage in this show. Sorry, Ladies.