Big play crosses new boundaries at Egyptian
So does "The Full Monty" really give you the full monty? Saying so would spoil the surprise, but whether or not the six protagonists see fit to show all, one can safely say the play holds to the edgy line the Egyptian Theatre Company has traced in recent years.
The organization takes pride in bringing plays to town that might not otherwise find a home in Utah. Recent examples of those pieces include "La Cage aux Folles," "Jesus Christ Superstar" and "Pageant."
"The Full Monty" attacks, however, with a different kind of furor. While previous plays might have included enough politics, or men in drag or something similar, "The Full Monty," directed at the Egyptian by artistic director Dana Durbano Keiter, earns its shocks with good, old fashioned nudity.
One of the first scenes in the play, features Marc Raymond’s Chippendale moves and almost every inch of his body. With the staff of the Marc Raymond Salon in attendance at the show on Saturday, Raymond’s performance doubtlessly produced some of the loudest cheers the Egyptian has ever heard. But after that, the play focused instead on its characters and storyline.
At its heart, "The Full Monty" is the story of a man, Jerry Lukowski played by Daniel Tarascvich seeking to find a job and a way to become a better father. At the same time, the play focuses on the relationships between Jerry and his best friend, the also unemployed Dave Bukatinsky, played by Kenneth Wayne, and the group of men who join them to try and find some work as male strippers.
Through these men, and occasionally their loved ones, friends and some others, "The Full Monty" examines what a man is and what his role is in a household and society.
Alternately funny and touching, the play follows its main characters as they band together to become male strippers one of the only ways they can see to make money under the leadership of Jerry.
Taraschvich shines in his role as Jerry, striking the balance between his character’s tough-guy surface and deep-seeded tenderness while still hitting the play’s comic notes.
Meanwhile, David Whitlock and Timothy Goins both turn in solid performances as two of the men who join Jerry, and Parkite Shelle Jennings making her acting debut at age 63 absolutely dominates every one of her scenes. Playing the plucky pianist who helps the men assemble their show, she lights up the audience with her performance from her looks to her one-liners.
Ultimately the stripping takes a back seat, although those scenes do provide some of the play’s more humorous moments, as the musical gradually ups the ante right through the play’s final scenes providing the audience with its share of gasps and surprises.
With its production of "The Full Monty," the Egyptian becomes the first community theatre in Utah to stage the musical. The scene seems fitting, since the movie premiered in Park City at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival.
And the play certainly fits with the theatre’s other, more cutting-edge fare, perhaps even pushing the theatre farther than it has ever gone before. "The Full Monty" earns its "R" rating and never hesitates to push the viewer out of his or her comfort zone, with a few scenes that surprise, a few others that shock, and some that are unquestionably funny if a bit racy.
Ultimately though, with its emotional turns, humorous tone, serious subject matter and stripping characters, "The Full Monty" fashions itself into a well-rounded play.
By the end of the show on Saturday, the audience was gleefully yelling encouragement to the men on stage, clapping along with the music and urging the characters on, and as the show closed, everyone rose to their feet with cheers.
While the production, at three hours, is long, it teases from its audience a whole range of emotions and a touch of surprise at what you can see on stage here in Utah. And while the show might shock some, it will probably leave many more happy that they came to see the Egyptian break some new ground once again.
"The Full Monty" will show at the Egyptian Theatre in Park City through March 1l. Tickets range from $16-$32 and are available from the Egyptian Theatre Company box office on Main Street, by calling 649-9371 or by visiting http://www.parkcityshows.com. "The Full Monty" is rated "R" for some adult language and content.
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