Buffalo, New York, is the setting for Terrance McNally’s 2000 adaptation—with music and lyrics by David Yazbeck—of the 1997 British film The Full Monty. Transcendence Theatre Company is running a Josh Walden-directed production at Glen Ellen’s Beltane Ranch through Aug. 20.
Originally the tale of a group of unemployed English steel workers, this Americanized version is the tale of unemployed mill worker Jerry Lukowski (Michael Burrell) who, desperate to pay back child support and maintain custody of his son Nathan (Zee Hubbard), enlists best friend Dave Bukatinsky (Jason Simon) to join him in a one-night-only male revue to provide financial relief to them and the men they recruit.
There’s Malcolm (Justin Anthony Long), a lonely soul who they save from taking his own life; efficiency-expert Harold (Jesse Swimm), who is more-or-less blackmailed into becoming the group’s choreographer; Noah aka “Horse” (Lee Palmer), an older gentleman who can really dance but has hip issues; and Ethan (Nicolas Garza), a young man who has no gift for dance but is “gifted” in another area.
With pianist Jeanette Burmeister (Mary Stout), a foul-mouthed show-biz veteran, they plan a show that’ll be up against a Buffalo Bills game. Jerry decides the only way to compete is to give the ladies something they’ve never seen before: the full Monty! Don’t ask how a British slang term finds its way into the mouth of an American steel worker.
Of course, all adversity is overcome by the group as they adapt to changing circumstances.
Which, coincidentally, is what Transcendence is trying to do. Having been booted from Jack London State Park, they are presenting this show at Beltane Ranch. It’s a lovely venue, but the positioning of the stage leaves the audience staring into the sun for the first hour, while the permit-mandated height of the stage makes seeing a great deal of the show challenging.
Which is a shame because so much of what you hear is very entertaining. The show is well cast, the singing is terrific and the live orchestra really delivers. Individual moments—usually involving audience favorites Palmer and Stout—stand out, but sightline limitations really hampered the enjoyment of this show.
Perhaps the repositioning of the stage is still possible, and the compacted seating might be spread out a bit to reduce the bobbing and weaving necessary to view the show.
This Full Monty and its artists deserve to be fully seen.
Transcendence Theatre Company’s ‘The Full Monty’ runs Fri-Sun through Aug. 20 at Beltane Ranch, 11775 Sonoma Hwy., Glen Ellen. Ranch opens at 5pm, show starts at 7pm. $45–$180. 877.424.1414. Contains adult themes and brief nudity. www.bestnightever.org.