Review: Players Club closes season with rousing ‘Full Monty’

Robert Harris, Jay Reilly, Joe Tabasco, Brian Seaman, Ben Long and Tim Whelan in The Players Club of Swarthmore’s production of “The Full Monty” playing April 21-May 6

By Christina Perryman

To close out their historic 106th season, The Players Club of Swarthmore went all out, or all in, with an energetic, hilarious and slightly risque production of “The Full Monty,” book by Terrence McNally and score by David Yazbek. The show is wonderfully directed by Emily Aaron Fishman and Anne Marie Scalies.

The show is set in Buffalo, N.Y., where out of work steelworkers are desperate for work. Jerry Lukowski, on the brink of losing joint custody of his son, Nathan, stumbles upon what he believes is a surefire way to make quick cash. Jerry convinces his best friend, Dave, to join his venture — a one night only strip show featuring the “real men” of Buffalo. The boys are joined by Malcolm, a former coworker they save from an attempted suicide. Jerry, Dave and Malcolm enlist the help of Harold Nichols, the suit they believe is responsible for the mill closing. Harold agrees to teach the fellas to dance and they hold auditions, adding Noah (Horse) Simmons and Ethan Girard to the act. Each man, although untrained and often uncoordinated, brings something unique to the act. Despite criticism and embarrassment, the act (Hot Metal) proceeds with hilarity, energy and even touching moments.

The main men have great chemistry together. Brian Seaman (Jerry) is charismatic as Jerry Lukowski. Joe Tabasco is endearing as Dave. Tim Whelan’s Harold is initially uptight but also quite funny. Ben Long’s Malcolm is nerdy yet adorable. Jay Reilly (Ethan) has many physically funny moments, plus a terrific voice. Robert Harris (Horse) brings maturity and humor.

They say behind every successful man, there is a strong woman — and the women in the show provide a lot of backbone. Sherri Carr (Georgie), Kristy Boyer Chen (Pam), Connie Pelesh (Vicki) and Doris Chan (Jeanette) are marvelous. Chan is very funny as seasoned show biz woman Jeanette. Carr’s Georgie is spunky and her confrontation with Dave in the second act is comical. Pelesh’s Vicki is sophisticated and supportive.

Andrew SanFilippo, who plays Nathan, holds his own in an adult cast. SanFilippo’s character is wise beyond his years and often appears more the parent than Jerry.

The set, designed by Derek Jay Ross, was the perfect venue. The multi-layered set, dressed in greys and other dark colors, helped portray the desperation of Jerry’s circumstances. The catchy music, excellently directed by Kevin Gane and Emily Szal, contains the numbers “Scrap,” “You Rule My World,” and “The Goods,” to name a few. The choreography, by Emily Aaron Fishman, was full of energy and spirit. Particularly well done were “Michael Jordan’s Ball” and “Big Black Man” (choreographed by Robert Harris). A live orchestra, nicely conducted by Kevin Gane and Emily Szal, played beautifully.

The show does contain adult language and some nudity and therefore may not be suitable for children. It is, however, perfect for girls’ night out. The performance runs two and a half hours with one 15 minute intermission.

“The Full Monty” runs at The Players Club of Swarthmore, 614 Fairview Road, Swathmore, 7:30 p.m., Thursdays, April 27 and May 4, 8 p.m., Fridays April 28 and May 5, and Saturdays, April 29 and May 6, and 2 p.m., Sunday, April 30. Tickets are $25 for adults and $13 for students 18 and younger, with ID. For tickets or information, call 610-328-4271 or visit http://www.pcstheater.org/.