The Full Monty
Presented by the Footlight Players Theatre
May 1-3, 8-10, 8 p.m.
May 11, 3 p.m.
Footlight Players Theatre
20 Queen St.
It is almost cheating to have Robert Ivey lead the making of a musical.
In doing so, you not only get a director but also a fantastic choreographer for free.
The Footlight Players finishes its 2007-2008 season with a thoroughly enjoyable rendition of Terrence McNally's The Full Monty, a full scale (almost three hours with intermission) musical with all of the comedy, song, and especially dance that marks the production.
Footlight is a community theater by definition, but they far exceed that label with this rousing, irreverent, boisterous, and laugh-out-loud crowd-pleaser.
Part of its success is the excellent dance numbers throughout the show that take advantage of everyone's talent. Part is due to superb comedic timing and staging. Most of it, though, is the sheer enthusiasm and joyful abandon that the cast puts into its roles, giving the best acting on the Footlight stage this season.
Sets and lights are designed by Richard Heffner and allow for very quick changes of just enough pieces to make each scene. The lighting flows smoothly, though at the moment of the Big Reveal, there's the slightest hesitation with backlights that gives the audience the briefest glimpse of some guys Montys.
Unintentional? Maybe. Or maybe it's done on purpose to create buzz. It begs the question since the same thing occurred during the Piccolo Spoleto production by the Charleston Ballet Theatre last June.
The only thing that prevents this production from being the best show of the season is that some of the singing is a little weak, but this isn't a pro production.
Lacking professional singers — though there are some good voices among cast members, is the show's one drawback. The singing isn't horrible — it's just not as strong as one wishes.
Fortunately, there's more than enough fine acting, great comedy, and excellent choreography to make this show a must-see.
Jamie Smithson has the lead role as Jerry Lukowski, a laid-off steel worker in Buffalo who needs to catch a break to be able to make his child support payments and keep seeing his son.
Smithson continues to develop a strong record of work in the Charleston region, adding this fine job to those of Bobby in last season's Urinetown at the Village Playhouse and the title role in CofC's Richard III this season.
He is not fantastic in any one area. Rather, he is strong in all areas. This complete package is what makes him a natural choice as leading man in area productions.
Paul Whitty, the Charleston newcomer last seen as the chaplain in Village Playhouse's Defiance, brings the same level of skill shown in that show to this production as Jerry's best friend Dave. Whitty is easy to watch on stage. He never seems to be acting, and he lets us get lost in the moment when he has chemistry with his cast members.
Special mention goes out to Scott Robinson, who plays Horse, a self-described big black man. His song and dance of the same name would have stopped the show had the lights not so quickly gone down at the end of the number. Robinson is amazing on stage playing an aging man who just wants to recapture his lost fame.
There is brief nudity in the show, lots of time spent in g-strings, and adult situations that would garner a strong PG-13 rating at the movies. So bear this in mind before taking young children.
But take everyone else you can find if you can still get tickets once word gets out. Audience members exiting the theater were using words like "fantastic," "exhilarating," and saying this was the best reprisal they'd ever seen.
They're right. This side of Broadway, it would be hard to find a fuller Monty.