By Jordan wright
One of the most astonishing things about The Little Theatre of Alexandria is its ability to mount a production as complex and energetic as “The Full Monty,” a strapping show by Terrence McNally and score by David Yazbek.
No less than 29 performers — backed by a stellar 16-piece orchestra — are in full throttle to give audiences 14 great numbers for a terrific evening of theater. Rachel Alberts and Carolyn Winters are back on board producing this sizzling-hot musical comedy, as is director Frank Shutts, a WATCH Award-winner who has directed 18 productions at The Little Theatre.
Pair them with choreographer Ivan Davila (kudos on his “Michael Jordan’s Ball” number), who won two WATCH Awards for his work on “Hairspray” last year at The Little Theatre; the award-winning team of lighting designers, Ken and Patti Crowley; and costume designers, Jean Schlichting and Kit Sibley, and you have a powerhouse pack of theatrical pros.
For those unfamiliar with this British import, which became a successful film, the American version is set in Buffalo and about out-of-work, out-of-options mill workers and their wives. The fun-loving wives, who are still employed, spend their girls’-night-out dollars at a local Chippendales strip club. One night best friends Jerry and Dave sneak into a bathroom window at the nightclub, only to overhear their wives talk about the lack of spark in their marriages and the sexy strippers.
“All those men. All those meat!” Dave’s wife Georgie exclaims.
Defeated and deflated, the guys decide that they, too, have the goods as well as any other man and agree to join forces to stage their own show. Fifty thousand dollars is the take for the night, enough to pay off Jerry’s child support and Dave’s bills. They confab with the evening’s talent, a gay man who goes by “Buddy,” to divine some tips. They decide it’s all just bump-and-grind and manly attitude.
The sports-loving, butt-scratching couch potatoes decide to audition a few other guys to fill out their act and hire the ex-plant manager/dance hall teacher Harold Nichols to teach them some sexy moves.
“Do you know what a pelvic thrust is?” Jerry asks the sensitive, rail-thin Malcolm. A more motley group of out-of-shape candidates could not be imagined.
“First we gave the world Buffalo wings. Now we’re gonna give ’em Buffalo wieners!” they concur. The plan is for them to take it all off, right down to “the business.”
Malcolm Lee plays a memorable Noah “Horse” T. Simmons. In the “Big Black Man” he transforms himself from a cane-carrying geezer to a man who does The Monkey, the Mashed Potato and the Moonwalk to garner a part in their revue.
“What’s the use of a big bundle,” he crows, “if you need a walker to carry it around?”
There are first-rate performances by this gifted cast: James Hotsko as Jerry Lukowski; Annie Ermlick as the Latin firecracker Vicki Nichols, who tears up the stage in “Love That Man;” Christopher Harris as the lovable loser Dave Bukatinsky; Jack Stein as Harold Nichols; Jennifer Strand as Jeanette Burmeister, the street savvy ex-actress; Keith Miller as Ethan Girard; Michael Gale as Malcolm MacGregor; Cara Giambrone as Georgie Bukatinsky; Amy Conley as the sassy Pam Lukowski; and Colin Cech as Jerry’s kid Nathan Lukowski.
The music in this show is fabulous. The ballads and duets are tender tearjerkers, while the showstoppers come across big and brassy. Leave your delicate sensibilities at home. This “Monty” is a rip-roaring naughty riot. Highly recommended.
The play runs through February 2 at The Little Theatre of Alexandria, 600 Wolfe St. For tickets and information, call the box office at 703-683-0496 or visit www.thelittletheatre.com