MNSU's "The Full Monty" Review

David Yazbek and Terrence McNally’s musical “The Full Monty” has now opened on the MNSU Mainstage, and here’s something just in case anyone out there is on the fence about seeing it.

The story centers around a group of men in Buffalo, New York who have all lost their jobs after a factory closing. One of them, Jerry Lukowski (played by Matthew Sather), determined find the money to keep his child in his custody, becomes inspired by a touring Chippendales show to get back funds by organizing a male strip show. After recruiting a mismatched group of friends and amateurs, he boasts to sell even more than a professional show by having the company strip completely naked - go ‘the full monty.’

This musical amasses an impressive cast, Gabriel Sell as Dave plays a perfect contrast and companion to Sather’s Jerry. Daniel PaulJohn Lane and Mack Spotts-Falzone give wonderfully lively and awkward performances as Malcolm and Ethan (because it has to be clear which two are the gay characters). I was amazed by how well Mitchell Evans - who plays Horse - was able to make his voice accurately sound like that of an old man’s, as well as moving like one. Andrew Anderson (Harold) is delightfully uncomfortable, MIkhayla Clausen (Jeanette) fun and bawdy, Erin Horst (Georgie) hilarious, and even Amanda Mai - playing Estelle - is able to put some of the most energy into the fewest lines. The crowning performance, however, probably came from Isaiah Miller playing Jerry’s son Nathan. The boy is a ninth grader at St. Peter High School, and he is going places. I think the only awkward deliveries oddly came from Sather himself. He plays Jerry very well, but slips into this odd expression when he sings certain musical numbers - keeping his face still and looking directly at the light booth. Besides this and a few unsure falsetto notes, the performances were wonderful.

The actors fit perfectly into the insanely comedic writing of the show, and into the music as well. Yazbek’s score has an overall jazz tone, becoming insanely catchy. Some numbers are fun and functionally pointless, such as when the boys are learning to dance by pretending to play basketball - “Michael Jordan’s Ball” - and others can be calm and touching, such as “Breeze Off the River” and “You Walk With Me.” My personal favorite song is “Big-Ass Rock,” a light-hearted  debate about suicide methods among friends. My favorite line of dialogue comes from Jeanette: “Good luck out there, boys. Break a dick.”

The technical design elements in the show are also very strong. Sets designed by John Paul include a nice amount of detail, and there is the choice of having the main character’s ex-wife and her boyfriend paired with the hilarious symbolism of always wearing the color beige whenever they appear onstage together. The lighting also plays an important role in the end, especially during the final strip show. And my, does the choreography convey the character’s discomfort perfectly.

For those making a quick decision: a summary!

The Good: Hilarious writing, fun music, great design and performances.

The Bad: A few awkward deliveries.

The Noteworthy: Butts. There are just a lot of butts. More butts than one might be otherwise prepared to see. Let that be a deciding factor if you wish.

I say, go see it while you can and go get a different song titled “Let It Go” stuck in your head for the next few weeks.