Review: ‘The Full Monty’ presented by Bay Area Musicals (***)

by Charles Kruger

Michelle Ianaro struts her stuff as the brassy piano player, Jeanette, in “The Full Monty.” Photo Credit: Ben Kranz Studio.
Reviewed by a voting member of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle.

So, let us grant that if “The Full Monty” is not exactly in the front rank of musicals, it’s not at the bottom of the pile either. Admittedly, faint praise for this bit of fluff that is rapidly achieving “chestnut” status. But that’s the point, it IS achieving “chestnut” status and that is because, whatever its faults, it has a heart of gold.

Terrence McNally, the very distinguished playwright who adapted the script from the popular British film, knows how to play upon our emotions, and it is hard to imagine that any audience would fail to enjoy “The Full Monty.” It is pretty near foolproof.

That makes it well suited for this semi-professional, and somewhat uneven company. It makes the lapses easy to forgive and allows the best moments to shine brightly.

Perhaps the brightest shine of this production is the old pro-style performance of the very experienced actress Michelle Ianiro as Jeanette, an old pro who accompanies the strippers at the piano on their journey to extreme vulnerability, dispensing show biz advice with wry writ and gusto.

Other cast members glitter more intermittently, but they get the job done and each member of the company has moments of ecstatic joy and emotional depth.

This is not Broadway and doesn’t try to be. If you are a fan, by all means, leave your critical hat at home and go have a good time. You won’t be disappointed.

Alas, I must offer one particular critique, however: on opening night the amplification seemed overdone to the point of distortion. Worse, there was a long sequence in the dressing room of a night club during which, inexplicably, a drum was beating loudly and mercilessly throughout. This was perhaps an unfortunate accident, or, more likely, intended to represent a performance on the stage of the nightclub, but it drowned out the actors and almost induced a headache for this viewer. Necessary, really?

In spite of that minor irritation, by the time the great reveal arrived before the final curtain, I was won over. You’ll be, too.

“The Full Monty” continues at the Victoria Theatre through March 15. For further information, click here.

Rating: *** (For an explanation of TheatreStorm’s rating scale, click here.)

“The Full Monty” by Terrence McNally with music & lyrics by David Yazbek. Based on the motion picture. Director & Choreographer: Leslie Waggoner. Music Director: Jon Gallo. Scenic Designer: Matthew McCoy. Costume Designer: Brooke Jennings. Lighting Designer: Eric Johnson. Sound Designer: Anton Hedman. Properties Designer: Tom O’Brien. Set Consultant and Technical Director: Stewart Lyle.


Jerry Lukowski: James Schott. Nathan Lukowski: Christopher Apy. Pam Lukowski: Desiree Juanes. Teddy Slaughter/Repo Man/Gary: Blake Weaver. Dave Bukatinsky: Chris Plank. Georgia Bukatinsky: Briel Pomerantz. Harold Nichols: Arthur Scappaticci. Vick Nichols: Adrienne Herro. Malcolm MacGregor: Jackson Thea. Ethan Girard: Stephen Kanaski. Noah “Horse” T. Simmons: Albert Hodge. Jeanette Burmeister/Molly: Michelle Ianiro. Buddy “Keno” Walsh/Dance Instructor/Police Sergeant: Julio Chavez. Ray Willoughby/Minister: David Richardson. Estelle Genovese: Jill Jacobs. Joanie Lish/Betty: Shauna Satnick.

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