Review: ‘The Full Monty’ at the John W. Engeman Theater at Northport

The John W. Engeman Theater at Northport rarely disappoints, and true to form their newest production, The Full Monty, is remarkably well done. This ten-time Tony nominee has a book written by Terrence McNally, music and lyrics by David Yazbek, and was based on the 1997 movie of the same name. Directed by Keith Andrews, and full of fun and entertaining choreography by Antoinette DiPietropolo, The Full Monty will have you laughing the whole way through.

Ryan G. Dunkin, Peter Simon Hilton, Noah Bridgestock, Spencer Glass, and Milton Craig Nealy. Photo by Genevieve Rafter-Keddy/BroadwayWorld.

Jerry Lukowski (Brent Michael DiRoma) is a down-on-his-luck steel worker in Buffalo, NY. He, his best friend Dave (Ryan G. Dunkin), and many others, have been out of work for a long time. He’s in arrears on his child support, in danger of losing his son, and in low supply of self-respect. He needs money, a lot of it, and quickly. With the only jobs available not meeting his standards, things are looking down, until he gets an idea. Noticing how excited the women of the town are about the Chippendale dancers, he decides to get some guys together and put on a show featuring “real” Buffalo men. Through awkward rehearsals, self-doubt and cold feet, the six would-be strippers take the audience on a humorous ride through the world of male exotic dancing (with many views of derriere included).

This cast does a fabulous job in every aspect. Their voices are strong and pleasing, the comedic timing is spot on, and the characters progress naturally from fear and nervousness, to confidence. Brent Michael DiRoma and Ryan Dunkin have a wonderful rapport together, bringing the best friend relationship to believable life. Raw emotion flowed easily from them, adding authenticity to the down-trodden desperation driving their characters.

Spencer Glass is endearing as the slightly dim-witted, yet sweet, Malcolm. His delightful facial expressions add to his character, as well as the overall humor.

Noah Bridgestock as Ethan, and Peter Simon Hilton as Harold, bring moments of both comedy and heart to the performance. Noah a.k.a. Horse, was portrayed by Milton Craig Nealy whose great voice and smooth dance moves were a pleasure to watch.

Kyle Wolf did a marvelous job as Jerry’s son, Nathan. His amused, yet embarrassed demeanor is a perfect portrayal of his character’s emotions. While everyone was excellent, one performance stood out above the rest. Diane Findlay stole the show as the spunky piano player, Jeanette. Her hilarious antics and spot-on one liners, combined with sass and wit made for a magnificent performance.

Composer and lyricist David Yazbek has mastered the art of storytelling through song. From the opening number of “Scrap,” to the finale of “Let It Go,” his strong melodies and pointed lyrics clearly portray the characters feelings and desires. Especially moving is the emotional number “You Rule My World” sung by Dave and Harold, and later reprised by their ‘wives’ Georgie and Vicki, played by Nicole Hale and Gaelen Gilliland respectively. As always, all of the music was beautifully performed by Conductor Andrew Haile Austin and his fine musicians.

DT Willis’ clever set worked extremely well. Its grungy appearance aids the feeling of a depressed town, and its swinging panels easily bring us to differing locations. The costume design by Tristan Raines appropriately reflects each character’s status in life. The lighting by Doug Harry really lit up in the final scenes, and superb sound design by Laura Shubert bolsters the entire show.

The Full Monty is heartfelt, and always amusing.

Running Time: Three hours, with a 15-minute intermission.

The Full Monty plays through March 5, 2017, at The John W. Engeman Theater at Northport – 250 Main Street, in Northport, NY. For tickets call the box office at (631) 261-2900, or purchase them online.

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