“LADIES, the time to grab is now!”
Such were the first words I heard upon walking into Jenkins Theatre as director Benjamin Wolfe was giving notes to his cast.
Damn, I thought, I didn’t bring any singles! Sorry, girls, there aren’t any Chippendale men hiding out on AASU’s campus. Instead the AASU’s Masquers are bringing The Full Monty to the stage starting Feb. 19.
In a time where unemployment is up and jobs are down, we have all questioned how far we would go for money. Six men have answered that very question in The Full Monty.
The stripper hijinks start when Jerry, played by Phil Parham, needs a job and some quick cash to be able to pay up his child support to continue being able to see his son. He rallies together some men to create a male review of Joe Schmoes.
“Jerry starts out a very selfish character,” explains Parham.” The challenge is to take him through the progression where in the end it’s not about him, but about supporting his friends.”
When asked why he chose this show, Wolfe says, “It’s terrifically funny and it’s a show that surprises the audience. People come expecting a spectacle, but during the show they discover that there’s a good story here.”
“It’s easy to relate to because it’s about six guys who have everyday problems,” adds John Martin, who plays Ethan.
“The catch is they don’t deal with them in an everyday way.”
Ray Ellis plays Dave, who has a problem with weight and all the mental issues that go with it. “Through the insecurities it’s easy to see a real-to-life character,” muses Ellis.
These real life characters come alive on stage through song and dance, a challenge for several members of the cast, but one they were happy to tackle. “There are some difficult harmonies,” admits Martin. “It takes a while to get back into using your voice on stage while moving around so much at the same time.”
Gail Byrd saw the challenge of her character Maxine’s solo as a growth opportunity. “The song hooked me, and it’s really given me a chance to stretch as an artist. I’ve grown into owning it and having faith in the character I’ve created, and that’s helped me get over the stage fright.”
Byrd is one of many the audience will recognize from other theatre venues around town as this production features more than Armstrong players.
“The biggest job is finding the right cast, then things follow naturally,” explains Wolfe. “There’s a lot of new talent that Savannah has never seen, but also lots of familiar faces. They gel together for what’s going to be an amazing production.”
Aside from relatable characters, the play has themes and situations anyone can connect to amidst daily reports of job loss and economic woes. Yet in spite of its potentially dampening backstory, it’s still a high energy show with lots of laughs.
“Come for the harmonies of the Monty Men and their phenomenal voices, they raise the level of everyone else,” says Byrd. “If you want to see a whole cast really having a good time on stage, you can’t miss this play.” cs
The Full Monty
When: Feb. 19-21, Feb. 26-28 at 7:30 p.m., Feb. 22 at 3 p.m.
Where: Jenkins Theatre at AASU campus
Cost: $15, discounts for students, military, and seniors. Call 912-344-2801 for more info.