Page 22 THE VILLADOM TIMES II & IV • June 24, 2009 Desperation leads to bold scheme in ‘The Full Monty’ by Dennis Seuling There is an amazing array of talent on stage at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn in the theater’s final production of the season, “The Full Monty,” which will run through July 12. Known for its classy staging of Broadway musicals, the Paper Mill can chalk this one up among its very best revivals. After a factory closes in Buffalo, New York, several unemployed men find themselves in dire financial straits. Among them is Jerry Lukowski (Wayne Wilcox), behind on his child support payments and in danger of losing joint custody of his son. His best friend, Dave (Joe Coots), also out of work, is depressed and having marital problems with wife Georgie (Jenn Colella). Job prospects are few and the men are rudderless as they spend their days drinking beer and feeling sorry for themselves. When Jerry and Dave see crowds of women flocking to a performance of Chippendales strippers at a local bar, Jerry figures the Buffalo gals will pay to see their own men -- some skinny, some overweight -- do a one-time-only strip show. Jerry soon learns that it is not just a matter of taking off clothes. The men must work on stage presence, choreography, personality, and pizzazz. They enlist the aid of laid-off factory supervisor Harold Nichols (Michael Rupert) with a few ballroom-dancing lessons under his belt to help them audition other guys for the ensemble and teach them basic Elaine Stritch and Milton Craig Nealy in the Paper Mill Playhouse production of ‘The Full Monty,’ playing now through July 12. choreography. Retired rehearsal pianist, Jeanette Burmeister (Elaine Stritch), acts as an accompanist. The auditions turn up Malcolm (Allen E. Read), a shy guy who takes care of his invalid mother; Noah (Milton Craig Nealy), an elderly man with some snappy moves of his own; and Ethan (Jason Babinsky), who can neither dance nor sing. Many directors have said that good casting is 90 percent of a show’s success. Never has that been truer than with this production. All the actors fit their roles perfectly. Wilcox delivers as the father who feels he is disappointing his young son and will lose him if he cannot pay back child support. It is his desperation that removes inhibition and allows him to think of the greater picture. With no decent job prospects, he views the strip act not as a new career, but as a chance to make enough money to pay his debts and be a responsible father. His Jerry is charismatic, but in an earthy way. When he suggests the plan to his buddy, Dave initially scoffs at the idea, but ultimately hears him out and is finally convinced. Coots’ Dave, overweight and self-conscious about his body, conveys a larger than life ebullience tempered by encroaching depression over unemployment and concerns about his marriage to a slim, attractive, employed woman he feels could have found a better man. Dave is immediately likeable, and Coots make the audience laugh, empathize, and root for him. Jeanette, the accompanist, is a small role created for an actress who can deliver an acerbic comment with a precision derived from years of stage experience. What better person for the job than Elaine Stritch? 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