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The Full Monty at the Masquers

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By Theresa de Valence - Posted on 02 June 2008

Masquers Theatre cautions that there is nudity and explicit language in The Full Monty, directed by John Maio. You’ve been warned. So buy tickets.

Perhaps because the show opens with a handsome nearly naked man, or perhaps because the women’s hooting wolf-whistles got my juices going, but I tended to focus on the acres of tantalizing male flesh, so I had trouble paying attention to the staging, the costumes, the storyline, et cetera.

Six unemployed steelworkers facing the daunting prospect of getting a job in a city with no jobs end up deciding to make some cash as male strippers. Photo by Jerry Telfer.

Jerry Lukowski (Todd Carver) is the ringleader with best friend Dave as cohort. They are longtime friends, able to throw sharp (honest) remarks to each other, but are separated by the enormous difference in the people they have become. In real life, Jerry would be quite unlikable. He’s unemployed, behind in child support payments, and
doesn’t seem to be looking for a job. He’s full of bravado and has big plans, none of which work out. Truthfully, he’s very confused about being unemployed and is secretly insecure. But in this story, he’s one of the heroes. He loves his kid—in fact, his son is more important than just about anything. Moreover, Jerry has a great arse.

Dave Bukatinsky (Tucker Matthews) is a good sidekick (nearly totally obedient despite his qualms), reminding me of friends from my Great Lakes area high school years. His rare assertions of his own opinions pop up in amusing ways. Dave has troubles of his own, though he’s a good man—he’s the only character who goes out of his way to help his wife manage the house. Dave starts out lukewarm and ends up an attractive character (inside and out).

Noah “Horse” Simmonds (Wendell H. Wilson) gave a stunning performance, funny and touching. Horse’s body language was eloquent, especially when he began removing his clothes. You’ve heard about black men? There’s even a song about black men and, under his clothes, this body builder gives promise of everything you could wish for.

Kyle Johnson as Malcolm MacGregor was both funnier and sadder than recent performances—showing Kyle’s increasing dramatic range. Malcolm is a sheltered, unhappy fellow with no friends until he meets up with this like-minded gang of frustrated men bent on turning their lives around.

Ethan Girard (Greg Milholland) adds a little mania to the story as the resident loon (a rôle Greg looks like he particularly enjoys). While others express shyness, he is willing to take his clothes off anytime anywhere. Ethan is awkward, clumsy, and socially inept but eventually he does develop purpose in the play. Surprisingly, I found him most deliciously sexy standing in the rain fully dressed.

Harold Nichols (Chaz. Simonds) is a man cut from a different cloth—he’s a white collar guy, with more education, and (once) with more money. He’s the only man who finds humour in their predicament though he too hides his personal fears. As the other men’s former supervisor, he’s used to being in charge but he does a poor job at getting the men’s chorus line together. And this is but one of his
failures.

These six unemployed men are goaded on their way by the proximity of a professional stripper, the gorgeous Buddy “Keno” Walsh (Casey Bair). This model stripper gives a flash of what these boys can aspire to (when he isn’t being sarcastic).

Nathan (Lucas Haley Masch) is Jerry Lukowski’s ten year old son. Nath is sweet, sincere, loving and conflicted—quite a mature and exemplary performance!

Georgie Bukatinsky (Sara Breindel) is the fullest, most realized female character. She’s a blue collar wife, getting a little racy on Girls Night Out. Georgie is pretty frustrated with her life—she’s tried several remedies but nothing much helps—until her husband hands the solution to her in a thong, er, song.

Pam Lukowski (Steph Peek) is the ex-wife of our leading man. With long purposeful strides and elegant model-like poses, she takes command of the stage. Though incredibly gorgeous, she’s brittle and chilly. In reality, we would probably agree with her position as Nath’s mother, but she seems too hard. Eventually, though, she’s every bit as supportive as the other wives.

Vicki Nichols (Lisa Lindsley) begins as a foolish bimbette enjoying her rôle as a Lady Who Lunches, offering a dazzling performance in the song Life With Harold. When tragedy later unfolds, she returns to earth and becomes a more tolerable person.

Estelle Genovese (Patty Penrod) is a coarse, in-your-face kinda girl. And she’s bold—vamping all the men within sight. When I first caught sight of Estelle, I marvelled at the luck of the casting director in finding such a perfect person for the rôle, but I now realize Estelle is the pinnacle of theatre arts: the culmination of the actress’s skill, her costumer and director.

Jeanette Burmeister (Anna Albanese) is my vote for Best Actress. She’s a droll, crazy old dame with no compunction in reminding us of her past showbiz glories. Though she’s a little tattered around the edges, we know that she still knows how to bring an audience (and a man) to its knees.

Chorus members, Susan Hershey (Linda Woody-Wood) and Joanie Lisb (Marisa Barley or Sue Claire Jones) are dressed with an extra soupçon of provocativeness for Girls Night Out. George Doerr plays Reg Willoughby & Tony Giordano. As Tony, the nightclub owner, he is flamboyant and foolish. A sight to behold! Teddy Slaughter (Bob Galagaran) is the new boyfriend of Todd’s ex-wife (and potential new custodian of Todd’s son), a man we’re destined to dislike. John Wilson flits across the stage in a flutter of minor persons: Gary, the Repo man, the minister and the Sergeant .

The main men start off on the sorry side of a family squabble: unemployed, depressed and struggling for their dignity. None of the men is supported by his family; the wives, mother and child want them to get a job. Each man must challenge his fears. Which he does. In amusing ways. Triumphantly. And for voyeuristic connoisseurs of male pulchritude, it’s just the ticket!