Human Race bares it all

The Full Monty is a winner

By Jacqui Theobald

Photo: The Human Race Theatre Company presents The Full Monty through October 4; photo: Scott J. Kimmins

The Full Monty (book by Terrance McNally, music and lyrics by David Yazbek), about a bunch of out-of-work blue-collar Buffalo guys, is full of very likable music supporting a plot of hopeful losers’ plans with a high energy ensemble.

Oh, wait! That’s not what you WANT? Well, yes they strip, somewhat reluctantly, even as they decide being ersatz “Chippendales” dancers is their only means of making some money. Will they actually do a full Monty? Before you find that titillating moment you will have fallen in love with one of the funniest, most charming pieces of theatre the professional Human Race Theatre Company could have chosen to open their 29th season.

Artistic Producer Kevin Moore notes, “It took the collective brilliance of our directors, designers, actors, orchestra and crew to fit this big stage musical into the intimate Loft.” He didn’t exaggerate.

The brilliance had to begin with Director Joe Deer whose vision and skill resulted in using his 19 cast members as if they were double that, and using almost every aisle and stairway as extensions of the main stage. He sets a brisk pace, yet is mindful of allowing poignant moments between father and son and between couples about to finally find mutual empathy.

His vision clearly included tasking Choreographer Dionysia Williams to create routines that support the plot: in “Scrap” using folding metal chairs percussively in the closed steel mill union hall; the imaginary basketball routine in “Michael Jordan’s Ball.”

Could casting be more perfect? Not only is each just right in appearance, each embodies big talent; singing, dancing and ability to create emotional beings. The voices are amazing.

As Jerry Lukowski, Christopher deProphetis carries the plot line with natural grace, shading and believable intensity. His scenes with his ex-wife and his son are straight from the heart. As his best friend the paunchy Dave Bukatinsky, Matt Welsh’s ode to his belly is a combination of sad frustration and skillful comedy performed with strength and clarity.

The not quite bright, very thin, friendless Malcolm MacGregor is personified by Matt Kopec. He’s a supple physical comedian with a just right musical comedy talent and a beautiful tenor. He shares the touching “You Walk With Me” with Josh Kenney as Ethan Girard in the second act when the two characters find a romantic connection. The hapless Ethan’s “talent” is his personal fantasy that he can dance on a wall like Donald O’Connor. To that end he gives his all too speedy but futile head-long dashes across the stage, followed by unseen crashes. I hope his knees hold up.

Richard E. Waits personifies Noah T. Simmons, known as Horse. He stumbles into the “audition” for the dancing strippers, as if he’s an old man, “he must be 50” the guys guess. Whatever his purported age, that Horse can dance. And sing. And deliver a line with wonderful deadpan timing. His winning solo is “Big Black Man,” catchy and crowd-pleasing.

As a contrast to the blue-collar boys is Harold Nichols, their former boss, played with appropriate dignity and sly humor by Jamie Cordes. He’s been living beyond his means to keep his unknowing wife happy since he, too, lost his job.

As Jerry’s son Nathan, Dayton’s own prize winning young actor, Peanut Edmonson has naturalism conquered. Who wouldn’t love this boy?

As Jeanette, the tough talking tobacco and booze addicted piano player (a role once played by Elaine Strich) Deb Colvin-Tener is an absolute scene-stealer. She delivers the wry, has her own feature, “Jeanette’s Showbiz Number” with the men and infuses good will in a tuneful whiskey voice.

And that’s fewer than half the cast. The ensemble members play multiple roles with such dynamic enthusiasm they seem like twice again their numbers. Strong singers Leslie Goddard and Sonia Perez, wives Georgie and Vickie reprise “You Rule My World” bringing tenderness and power to the lyrics.

Scott Stoney, a co-founder of HRT is having way too much fun with his many roles, including an unsuccessful attempt at stripping—a true audience-pleasing turn.

Dick Block, scenic designer, created complex, flexible revolving sets supporting some 24 different scenes that move smoothly without blackouts or interruption. Making it happen, Technical Director Scott J. Kimmins works creatively and energetically with Eric Moore and Ray Zupp. They’ve even managed to get a car on stage.

Costume Designer Janet G. Powell, at an early meet-and-greet, twinkled as she teasingly revealed a red G-string. In truth, an uncountable number of costumes are needed both for the main characters’ changes and all the ensemble’s double and triple roles. Christie Peitzmeier, Andrew Ian Adams and Lauren Lucy Rodgers met the challenge.

The ever-meticulous John Rensel is lighting designer; Heather Powell is properties master; Kay Carver is production stage master, working to keep it all running smoothly with a huge notebook containing everything.

Sean Michael Flowers is back stage, the unseen music director-conductor with six other musicians setting the energetic pace and personality.

Jay Brunner, sound design, doubles in the band on guitar. The Loft is an intimate house, with lyric clarity best served by a reasonable decibel level. Sound too high distorts.

Running almost three hours, this is value packed. You get your money’s worth.

Human Race Theatre Company presents The Full Monty through Oct. 4. For times and ticket information, please visit or call 937.228.3630.

Reach DCP theatre critic Jacqui Theobald at

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Reach DCP theatre critic Jacqui Theobald at

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