Egyptian ready to strut its stuff with new production
When "The Full Monty" first appeared at the Sundance Film Festival in 1997, the movie was a little-known independent British comedy. Before the year was over, though, the film became a hit, worming its way into popular culture and finding an audience of millions.
Eight years later, the film will return to Park City in a new incarnation as a musical. Friday night, the Egyptian Theatre Company will present the opening night of "The Full Monty."
According to Dana Durbano Keiter, artistic director at the Egyptian Theatre Company and director of the production, the Egyptian will be the first theatre group to present the musical since it came through Utah as a touring show after its Broadway run.
"We like to do things that other people in Utah might not do," said Keiter. "I don’t know too many places [in Utah] that would produce this show."
Like the film, the stage version of "The Full Monty" tells the story of a group of downtrodden working class men who, when forced to face their unemployment, eventually turn to a job as male dancers.
But unlike the film, which was set in Sheffield, England, the stage version takes place in Buffalo, N.Y.
The story’s tone and premise, however, remain the same.
"It’s so much about the relationships of these men," said Keiter.
While the production does contain at least one strip scene, she noted, the vast majority of the story is about how a group of men join together to form a group of friends who share their strengths as they work to earn money for their families, while dealing with their problems and insecurities and trying to learn how to strip.
"It’s all the comic aspirations that come into play as they’re learning how to do that," said Egyptian Theatre Company board member Marc Raymond, who plays a Chippendale dancer in the production.
According to Keiter, Raymond, is one of the few theatre company regulars, along with Kenneth Wayne, who found a spot in the cast, but Keiter said the cast was a good one.
"We’ve got a fabulous group of people," she said.
Among the stars of the show are Danny Tarasedich, Chadwick Taylor, Jon Copier, Timothy Goins and David Whitlock.
"It makes my job so much easier if I can get a great bunch of actors together," she added.
Among the locals she mentioned was Parkite Shelly Jennings, who will make her acting debut at the Egyptian, according to Keiter.
"It’s great having that local flair and she’s fabulous," Keiter added, noting the expanded female roles in the stage version of "The Full Monty."
Keiter also noted that Raymond’s role rather resembles reality.
"I used to dance for Chippendales a long time ago," he noted.
He said the role would be a difficult one far more difficult than his Chippendales job more than 10 years ago.
"Before, you didn’t know a soul in the audience," he said. "Now I know a significant amount of the people in the audience."
So, he said he’s been putting in his time in the gym in preparation for the role. But while he noted his preparation, he commended the actors in the leading roles. While they might not all have Chippendale physiques, according to Raymond, their vocals are great.
"The voices on these lead guys in this show," said Raymond, "Wow."
He noted the quality he saw as he sat and watched the end of a rehearsal one evening with a small group of cast members.
"You could feel the energy," he said. "We said, if 15 of us can have this much fun, the audience is going to be up on their feet cheering these guys on."
According to both Raymond and Keiter, the show has come together in the past few days. The actors started rehearsals on Jan. 16, moving to the Park City Dance studios for the Sundance Film Festival and returning to the Egyptian stage on Monday, Jan. 30.
The show will feature the same band that played in "Jesus Christ Superstar," The group is led by David Evanoff and includes Mark Maxon, Alex Rowe, Jenny Floor and Mark Robinett.
Also like "Jesus Christ Superstar," "The Full Monty" deals with some mature themes.
"The show is not intended for preteens and children," said Keiter. Raymond agreed.
"It’s a rated ‘R’ show," he said. "They did not doctor the script."
The show is, however, much funnier than the serious "Jesus Christ Superstar." And while "The Full Monty" does deal with some adult themes those things don’t necessarily lay at the heart of the show.
"The show is not about stripping, although we do go there," said Keiter. "It’s about these guys coming together and the relationships that develop."
"The underdog comes back and wins," said Raymond.
"The Full Monty" runs from Feb. 10 through March 11 at the Egyptian Theatre in Park City. Tickets range from $16-$32. Tickets and more information are available online at http://www.parkcityshows.com or by calling 649-9371.
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