Review: ‘The Full Monty’ at Workhouse Arts Center

The Full Monty, a musical about a group of unemployed, average Joes who decide to put on a one-night-only strip show to make big money fast, is currently playing at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton. With Book by Terrance McNally and Music and Lyrics by David Yazbek, the show constantly pushes the boundaries of the socially acceptable with its sexual nature but retains a wonderful relatability with focuses on basic human interactions in friendship, sexuality, and marriage.

The live band accompanying Workhouse Arts Center's production of 'The Full Monty.' Top row, L-R: Robbie Taylor (guitar), David Weinraub (keys 2/synth). Seated, L-R: Tito Perez (percussion), Chelsea Majors (keys/conductor), Christopher Willett (bass). Photo courtesy of Workhouse Arts Center.
The live band accompanying Workhouse Arts Center’s production of ‘The Full Monty.’ Top row, L-R: Robbie Taylor (guitar), David Weinraub (keys 2/synth). Seated, L-R: Tito Perez (percussion), Chelsea Majors (keys/conductor), Christopher Willett (bass). Photo courtesy of Workhouse Arts Center.

Jeff Davis and Mary Payne served both as Directors and Choreographers for the show. The production includes a live band, conducted by Chelsea Majors (who was also the Musical Director).

The musical kicks off with the company number “Scrap,” as a roomful of men receiving their unemployment checks relate their self-worth to the scraps from the steel mills that used to employ them. The men’s voices are strong and on-point with their harmonies, setting a high bar for the rest of the show.

Best friends Jerry Lukowski and Dave Bukatinsky are two of these men. Jerry is alternately played by Sean Garcia or Michael Omohundro, and Tobin Moss plays Dave. Both men battle with their pride about their job status, which exacerbates other struggles in their lives: Jerry is at risk of losing partial custody of his son, Nathan (Marcus Dowd), unless he can pay his back child support, and Dave’s relationship with his wife, Georgie (Melynda Burdette), is suffering.

But in stark contrast to the heavy mood of the men, is the women celebrating a night out at a strip club. Feeling empowered and sexually charged, the ladies revel in it now being “A Woman’s World.” Georgie Bukatinsky, Dave’s wife and now the breadwinner of the family, organizes the events.

Hiding in the stall of the bathroom at the strip club, Jerry and Dave overhear Georgie and Jerry’s ex, Pam (Jessi Scott), complaining about their unhappiness and the men’s lack of drive.

Adding insult to injury, the men then meet the male stripper that the women have been fawning over, inspiring Jerry to hatch a plan to regain their manhood (and income) by organizing their own strip show and cashing in on the women’s lust. Jerry pushes the reluctant, self-titled “fat bastard” Dave to help him round up a crew of men.

Moss, as Dave, plays his character’s insecurities with a genuine sadness that makes him instantly lovable, and the audience roots for his success through the entire show.

The musical has a supporting cast with multiple featured characters and these performances are where the production truly shines.

The cast of Workhouse Arts Center's production of 'The Full Monty.' L-R: Sean Garcia (alternating Jerry), Tobin Moss (Dave), Michael Omohundro (alternating Jerry), Matt Calvert (Ethan), Aaron Talley (Harold), Anthony Williams (Noah ‘Horse’), Dylan Toms (Malcolm). Photo courtesy of Workhouse Arts Center.
The cast of Workhouse Arts Center’s production of ‘The Full Monty.’ L-R: Sean Garcia (alternating Jerry), Tobin Moss (Dave), Michael Omohundro (alternating Jerry), Matt Calvert (Ethan), Aaron Talley (Harold), Anthony Williams (Noah ‘Horse’), Dylan Toms (Malcolm). Photo courtesy of Workhouse Arts Center.

Dylan Toms plays the depressed Malcolm MacGregor. Jerry and Nathan happen upon Malcolm attempting to asphyxiate himself in his car. They rescue him and convince him to perform. Toms illustrates the definition of awkwardness but in the most endearing and hilarious way. And his voice is exquisite, most notably in his second act song, “You Walk With Me.”

In search of a choreographer for their show, the men solicit their former boss, Harold Nichols (Aaron Talley). They learn that Harold has been lying to his wife, Vicki (Kristen Renee Reeves), about being laid off. Reeves sings the light-hearted and fun “Life with Harold,” reveling in her luckiness in finding such a catch. And the men persuade Harold to join them by threatening to expose his secret.

Noah “Horse” Simmons (Anthony Williams) is another recruit. He first hobbles into the audition room with his cane and a bad hip, but warms up into a song and dance in the number “Big Black Man.” Williams is the brilliant combination of funny and sexy and, along with some slick choreography, rouses the crowd into hysterical applause.

The group’s accompanist, Jeannette Burmeister (Genevieve Williams), who showed up at the auditions “piano and all” is another standout in the show. Williams seethes with dry wit and blatant honesty, especially at the top of the second act with “Jeannette’s Showbiz Number,” where she gives the men a dose of reality about their likelihood of putting on a good performance.

The Full Monty is considered a comedy but has just as many touching moments throughout. The beautiful duet, “You Rule My World,” first sung by Harold (Talley) and Dave (Moss), and then reprised by their wives Vicki (Reeves) and Georgie (Burdette) follows both couples’ evolving relationships, as they reveal all their truths while also professing their unconditional love.

The Workhouse’s production is also stacked with fantastic numbers. The finale “Let It Go” is worth the price of admission alone, with its choreography and the men’s energy and dedication.

The Full Monty is definitely an adults-only show, with some partial nudity and sexual themes. But it is an undeniably good time, with many stellar performances. It is one of those perfect date night, girls’ night, or any fun night productions to partake in.

Running Time: Approximately two hours and 15 minutes, with one intermission.

The Full Monty plays through May 25, 2019, at Workhouse Arts Center – 9518 Workhouse Way in Lorton, VA. For tickets, call (703) 584-2900 or purchase them online.

Joshua Stout, Production Stage Manager/Lighting Technician; Jeremy MacDuff, Scenic Design; Kelly Brackley, Lighting Design; Clare Pfeifer, Sound Design and Technician; Genevieve Williams, Costume Design; Rob Cork, Stephen Wright, Paul Lingamfelter, and Jeremy MacDuff, Carpenters/Electricians; David Weinraub, Keys II/Synth; Robbie Taylor, Guitar; Christopher Willett, Bass Guitar; Tito Perez, Percussion; Dana Maginity, Rebecca Kiser, Alexander Gordon, and Danny Seal, Ensemble.