Monday, May 7, 2018

Hillbarn Theatre goes 'The Full Monty'

Dave (Christopher Reber, left) and Jerry (Andy Cooperfauss, right) try to convince Malcolm (Brian Palac) to join them. 

Losing a good job with no prospect of comparable one can be demoralizing or worse.

In “The Full Monty,” the musical presented by Hillbarn Theatre, that’s the situation faced by some men in Buffalo, N.Y., after its steel plant closed.

One of them, the divorced Jerry Lukowski (Andy Cooperfauss), is behind on his child support payments and fears losing joint custody of his 12-year-old son, Nathan (Jack Barrett), to his ex-wife, Pam (Amy Meyers).

Others are worried about supporting their families and making mortgage payments.
After seeing women willingly pay $50 to see a hunky male stripper, Buddy “Keno” Walsh (Jepoy Ramos), Jerry decides to gather some pals and put on their own show.

His first recruit is his best friend, Dave Bukatinsky (Christopher Reber), whose depression has distanced him from his wife, Georgie (Glenna Murillo). Dave is reluctant to join in the scheme because he’s overweight.

Still, he agrees. They’re soon joined by their former boss, Harold Nichols (Gregory Lynch), who hasn’t told his spendthrift wife, Vicki (Adrienne Herro), that he’s lost his job.

Also coming on board are the suicidal Malcolm MacGregor (Brian Palac), who lives with his invalid mother; the well-endowed Ethan Girard (Bradley Satterwhite); and Noah “Horse” T. Simmons (James Creer), an arthritic black man who still has some good dance moves.

A pianist, Jeanette Burmeister (Linda Piccone), shows up as their accompanist.

Women aren’t interested in seeing amateurs strip until Jerry tells them that unlike Keno, who stripped to shiny briefs, they’ll go totally nude, or the full monty. That works.

The book by Terrence McNally, with pleasant music and lyrics by David Yazbek, keeps one’s interest with humor and likable characters. It’s adapted from a popular movie set in England.

As directed by Dennis Lickteig with choreography by Lee Ann Payne, there are capable performances all around. The singing is generally good except for Cooperfauss, who has trouble with his higher notes.

One standout performance comes from Piccone, whose comic timing makes the salty Jeanette an audience favorite, especially in “Jeanette’s Showbiz Number.”

In a different vein, when Malcolm sings the sweet “You Walk With Me” at his mother’s funeral, he becomes emotional but recovers when Ethan takes his hand. When Dave seems shocked that two men are holding hands, Jerry says, “Good for them.”

Offstage, music director Mark Dietrich directs nine other musicians from the keyboard. However, sound designer Danielle Kisner amplifies it too much.

The simple set is by Kuo-Hao Lo with lighting by Christian Mejia, and costumes, hair and makeup by Valerie Emmie.

Running about two hours and 45 minutes with one intermission, “The Full Monty” makes for enjoyable entertainment.

It will continue through May 20 at Hillbarn Theatre, 1285 E. Hillsdale Blvd., Foster City. For tickets and information, call (650) 349-6411 or visit

Photo by Mark and Tracy Photography