When done right, THE FULL MONTY is a really good musical. It’s bawdy but not offensive, and provides opportunity for many tender moments to balance out the laughs. It’s not perfect; it’s too long and some of the dialogue is clunky. There might be an unnecessary character or two. But the score is terrific and it is a very funny premise.
The Carnegie has opened their season with a production of the show that features lots of comic bits, big performances, and upbeat energy – especially at the top and bottom of the show. There are some good performances and the opening night audience hooted and hollered at all the right times.
I very much enjoyed the work of Sara Kenny as “Pam.” She seems to know how to play at exactly the right energy-level required for the space and the moment. Lormarev Jones, a non-traditional casting choice for “Georgie,” shines with her natural acting style and charisma. R. DeAndre Smith surprises with his agility and comic timing. Brian Anderson (“Harold”), an experienced professional, anchors most of his scenes and Robert Breslin (“Ethan”) and Kelcey Steele (“Malcolm”) have solid chemistry together. Most of the vocals are spot-on, with one or two notable exceptions.
There are some disappointing elements on opening night. As is often the case in this space, it sounded like the show was being performed inside Mammoth Cave with its muddy and muffled microphones. I’m not sure what the solution is, but it’s really difficult to hear the dialogue and the lyrics. Also, there are multiple opportunities to spotlight the tenderness in the script but it is only the fleeting sweetness between “Malcolm” and “Ethan” that rang true to me. Even the best actors on stage struggled with modulating their emotions, while others constantly gestured so broadly I wondered if they’d just graduated from class in mime. Most of the show just felt too big, too obvious – except for a few moments when big would have worked was mind-bogglingly low in energy. Finally, the performance ran almost three full hours including intermission. That’s thirty minutes too long.
“The Full Monty” is about relationships, overcoming fear and adversity. Blue collar, every men finding their way. There’s so much heart built into the script and the score. I wish more attention had been paid to that in this production.
THE FULL MONTY runs through August 27th. Tickets and more information can be found here.