by Beki Pineda

THE FULL MONTY –  Book by Terrence McNally; Music and Lyrics by David Yazbek; Directed by Kelly McAllister. Produced by Parker Arts and Sasquatch Productions (presented at Parker Arts, Culture and Events Center, 20000 East Pikes Peak, Parker) through August 4. Tickets available at 303-805-6800 or ParkerArts.org.

The boys of FULL MONTY have got the goods!! No doubt about it. It is truly amazing how this lovely script takes a racy idea and turns it into a uplifting rewarding tale of redemption and pride. Watching these six men go from fear and uneasiness to determination and power to “Let It Go” brings tears to your eyes as you watch not only their characters move to bravery, but also the men playing the characters who have to undergo the same journey. I’ve been a part of a production of FULL MONTY (not this one) and witnessed how the men waited till the last possible moment to rehearse the final 30 Monty seconds and had to “close the set” to get through it the first time. Baring it all on stage is hard – I don’t care who is doing it. So, Bravo, gentlemen!!

MONTY is about a set of men who have all lost their jobs when the local factory closed. This has created a multitude of individual problems for them in addition to the generic lack of money. Jerry (August Stoten) needs money to catch up his child support before he loses visitation rights to his young son. Dave (Brandon Bill) is delegated to “house husband” and is shamed by it and his weight. Harold (Nick James Johnson) has a wife who likes pretty things. He has maxed out his credit cards because he’s afraid to tell her he lost his job. Malcolm (Parker Fowler) is so depressed by his life that he tries to commit suicide. Horse (Asad Clinton) is a gifted dancer who is growing older and wants to be known as more than a “ Big Black Man.” Ethan, the last to join the troop, dreams of dancing up the wall like Donald O’Connor but admits that he has only a single asset to offer that has more to do with swinging than dancing. The boys are joined in their rehearsals by experienced accompanist Jeanette (Barbara Porreco) who is full of wisecracks and encouragement.

In addition to being an inspiring story, it’s a really good musical. The songs by David Yazbek run the gamut from beautiful ballads like “You Walk With Me” sung at Malcolm’s mother’s funeral and “You Rule My World” sung to sleeping wives to delightful novelty songs, such as “Big Ass Rock” when three of the players are contemplating the best way to commit suicide. “First you get a big ass rock!” Jeannette, the piano player, extols her experience playing for former singers like Frank Sinatra in a funny song simply titled “Jeannette’s Showbiz Number.” Barbara Porreco totally sold this song with her casual ‘been there-done that’ attitude. The boys rocked out on “Michael Jordan’s Ball” as they used basketball moves to teach themselves to dance.  Using actual balls on stage is a dangerous game as they often become uncontrollable. But the boys handle the balls as well as they do everything else. Watch for a delightful surprise in this number as the basketballs are delivered to the stage. Vicki, Harold’s wife played by Danielle Hermon Wood expresses her joy of having a “Life With Harold” that is full of travel and beautiful gifts. Jessica Sotwick plays the raucous Georgie, Dave’s wife,  who organized the Chippendale-type show that gave the guys the idea in the first place. Their hired dancer – played by Jalen Smith – gets the show started off with a jolt. Brandon Bill gives an inspired performance as Dave, the dancer concerned about his weight. His fear of ridicule and hesitancy in the beginning makes his acceptance and determination  at the end all the more triumphant.

The technical side of the show displayed professionalism as well with a Scenic Design by Shaun Albrechtson, lighting by Seth Allison, and costumes by Jessie Page. Choreographer Sabrina Gentry created just the right balance in the dance routines that authentically portrayed non-dancers learning to dance. The big finale showed improvement and style without converting them to Gene Kellys overnight.

This is the inaugural production of Sasquatch Productions, the brainchild of Kelly McAllister (the right leg) as Director and August Stoten (the left leg) as Assistant Director and lead actor. Using a team of top designers and experienced performers, they have created a fun theatre evening for their audiences. They are off to a great start; I look forward to their next production.

A WOW factor of 8.5!!