Wednesday January 23 7:51 pm

Spotlighting events along the south shore of Lake Michigan

"The Full Monty" - Review by Alan Bresloff

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The anticipated move is now complete, and thanks to the City of Evanston, getting to this venue and finding parking will be far easier for both city and suburban patrons. The building is still a storefront and has the ability to be transformed for every production, thus Anzevino’s style will not be cramped. Neither will the patrons, as the larger, yet still intimate space will allow over two dozen additional patrons to each Performance. Bravo!

The first production at this new theatre is “The Full Monty” ( what a way to introduce your theater to the new neighborhood) based on the English film , but moved to Buffalo New York , with a book by Terrence McNally and music/lyrics by David Yazbek.. The story is about some unemployed steel workers who have their backs to the wall over the financial situation this has caused them. When they see what happens at a “girl’s night out”, they decide that they can become strippers too. This would be easy money and in one night they would get the cash they need to get them back on their feet, allowing for male pride to return.

The antics of putting their troupe together and the different types of men that make up the troupe allow for lots of laughter and at the same time a deep look into what makes us tick. Both men and women. When they are up against it and a real stripper company announces a special night, on the night of their dance, they decide to win out by doing the “Full Monty” ( this means TOTAL strip).

The two main workers, or should I say, unemployed workers, are Jerry ( a solid job by Matt Frye) who is divorced and having some custody battles with his ex, Pam (Anna Dvorchak) and Dave ( deftly handled by Nick Druzbanski). Dave’s wife, Georgie ( a delightful MollyLeCaptain) wants him to take a job at Wal-Mart as a security guard. It is when Dave goes after her at a “girl’s night” with Jerry that they decide they could pull this off.

The two men enlist others by having tryouts. Before they do this, they enlist the aid of the man who was the cause of them losing their jobs, Harold ( perfectly played by Jonathan Schwart) who at least knows how to dance. With the aid of Jeanette ( Kate Harris is adorable) an old musical piano player, they hold auditions and pick up Mama’s boy Malcolm ( Joe Giovannetti is very funny), Horse ( played to perfection by Marc Prince and Ethan (Neil Stratman) who as it turns out has zero talent, but is very well endowed.

Watching these men evolve from “shleppers” to strippers is fun. Jerry’s son, Nathan (Sean Zielinski) adds something special to the story, showing how true love and respect between father and son can be a great asset in life. The chemistry of Sean and Matt inthese roles truly comes out. Well done! Other cast members that fill in the gaps areTyler Symone,David Stobbe, Alexander Christ, Janyce Caraballo, the powerful Emily Barnash (Harold’s wife) and John Cardone as Keno, the initial Male Stripper, who does quite a show. He later comes back to perform a funeral.

Yes ,this is a comedy, filled with music. Most of the songs are not truly memorable, but “Michael Jordan’s Ball” to end the first act is a powerful number with superb choreography by Sawyer Smith), “Big Black Man”, “You Rule My World” and of course the final number, “Let It Go” are ones that you will have heard before. But it is also a story that has some meaning as these men find that friendship can overcome any obstacles placed before them and that love can conquer all.Finely directed by Anzevino who truly is the master of thinking small ( and intimate) this production is solid and with the actors very close to the people who sit at tables right up front, when the final number is over, you will find yourself picking up some of the clothing that has been tossed.

The set (Ben Lipinski), lighting (James Kolditz), and costumes( Bill Morey) are all top-notch. The props (Matt Zalinski) are a delight and while the sound was good (Robert Hornbostel) it will get better as they learn how to adjust to the new space. Of this you can be certain!

As always, Jeremy Ramey handles the orchestra and is more in view than the old venue. He is also the man on the keyboards along with his four amazing musicians, Perry Cowdery (guitar), Jeff Burden (trumpet), Alex Piazza (trombone) and Carlos Mendoza (drums). They do a great job and sound like a much larger orchestra.

“The Full MOnty” will continue at the NEW TheoUbique Cabaret Theatre, which will be called The Howard Street Theatre, located at 721 West Howard Street ( just East of Ridge Avenue) in Evanston thru January 27th. Caution- the numbers are different on the two sides of the street. The performance schedule is as follows:

Thursdays 7:30 p.m.
Fridays 7:30 p.m.
Saturdays 7:30 p.m.
Sundays 7:00 p.m.
Running time is 2 hours and 30 minutes including a 15 minute intermission.

Tickets range from $39-$44 ( an additional $25 will get you dinner). Seniors and students, save $5

To order your chance to experience this delightful production call 800-595-4849 or visit www.theo-u.com

Parking is a breeze. Howard street is metered but since they are different cities, they are also different with time zones of usage. Read the meter info. Street parking can be done on the Chicago side, but Evanston side streets have rules. Don’t let a ticket spoil this experience, read the signs and meters.