AUBURN — It was a full house for “The Full Monty” at Community Little Theatre’s full-of-fun opening night performance.

From the raucous opening with lots of audience hoots and whistles to the riotous finale, everyone knew Friday night that the six unemployed steelworkers who stake their financial comeback on a one-time, all-out male striptease show would succeed.

“The Full Monty” has a large cast, and this Community Little Theatre team is just as strong on dramatic talent as it is on the excellent music and comedy.

The six out-of-work men ride a roller coaster to heights of bravado and depths of misgivings about their desperate plan to regain some self-esteem.

Their attempts range from laughable to surprisingly touching as each of the men discovers unexpected personal strength.
Matthew Ryder of Windham makes his CLT debut in the central role of Jerry Lukowski, who is divorced and afraid he will lose contact with his teenage son. Ryder brings total believability to the role’s mix of comedy and drama, and he has a fine voice for the solo ballad “Breeze Off The River.”

CLT veteran Roger Philippon is Jerry’s buddy, Dave, and the pair work well together. Philippon’s comedic talents are a delight, but he also has some fine moments with the serious exchanges with Rhonda Trask who plays his wife, Georgie.
The six men who decide they can make serious money with an all-out strip show are about as diverse a group as can be imagined. Every one of them in the CLT production is excellent.
Christopher Hodgkin delivers a compelling performance as Malcolm MacGregor, the shy and nerdy young man whose inept suicide attempt lands him in the plan. One of the funniest musical numbers is “Big Ass Rock,” in which Jerry and Dave try to show Malcolm a whole lot ways he might want to kill himself.
James Kramlich is very good as the macho show-off Ethan.
Hodgkin and Kramlich sing a moving duet, “You Walk With Me,” at the funeral of Malcolm’s mother.
Roland Davis has a show-stopping number, “Big Black Man,” that emphasizes there is still lots of life in the graying Noah (Horse) Simmons.
Harold, well played by Jonathan Carr, is an unpopular factory boss who is another victim of the job losses. His cruise-loving wife, Vicki, played by Cheryl Reynolds, doesn’t know he’s unemployed.
“You Rule My World” is a very good number sung by Philippon and Carr to their wives.
Patty Vieta is a special treat as Jeannette Burmeister, the wisecracking rehearsal pianist who helps forge the bonds among the men.
Zachary Fisher is excellent as Jerry’s son, Nathan, and Angela Reed plays Pam, Jerry’s ex-wife.
There are lots of opportunities to admire Mariah Perry’s choreography. It’s the men who carry much of the dance responsibility in “The Full Monty,” and “Michael Jordan’s Ball” is one of the numbers where they deliver on Perry’s choreographic skills.
“It’s a Women’s World” showcases the ladies in the cast, and Adam Blais gives a good performance as Buddy “Keno” Walsh, a real Chippendales-style male stripper.
“Let It Go” is the show’s finale, and it doesn’t disappoint.
This is a musical. It’s easy to forget it’s a musical, and that’s meant as a compliment to the cast and orchestra directed by Joseph Villani. Young adults who might avoid a classic musical comedy will find a lot to like in “The Full Monty” with its balance of upbeat tunes and beautiful ballads.

Go and do
WHAT: “The Full Monty”
WHO: Lewiston-Auburn Community Little Theatre
WHEN: at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 8; at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 9-10; and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 11
WHERE: Great Falls Performing Arts Center, Academy Street, Auburn
TICKETS: $15; call 783-0958 or visit www.laCLT.com


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