St. Louis Stage Capsules

Dennis Brown and Paul Friswold suss out the local theater scene.

The Full Monty A good musical comedy leaves you exhilarated; a great musical comedy leaves you exhausted. The Full Monty may be a pretty good musical comedy on its own, but under the direction of Michael Hamilton, it's a tears-in-your-eyes, sides-aching knockout. Unemployed Buffalo steelworker Jerry (Michael Halling) is in danger of losing joint custody of his son, Nathan (Kyle P. Gunby), unless he can come up with back child support. He hatches a get-rich quick scheme that hinges upon assembling a troupe of regular-guy strippers. Halling imbues Jerry with a rough-edged charm that's equal parts desperate enthusiasm and nagging doubt. Jerry's best friend, Dave (Nicholas Kohn), is unreceptive to the stripping thing (he's a stout fellow, in all senses of the word). Kohn is a fluid dancer for a big man, and he has killer sense of physical comedy. The two make an eminently likable team; their duet "Big Ass Rock," about the best ways to kill yourself, is a blackly humorous triumph. As Jerry and Dave vacillate in their commitment to the plan and each other, the rest of the troupe — the staid Harold (Marc Kessler), the downtrodden Horse (Keith Tyrone), the dim but loving Ethan (Matthew Skrincosky) and the magnificently awkward Malcolm (Zachary Halley) — struggle to find themselves. The pacing is crisp, the comedic timing spot-on, the singing lovely. The requisite show-ending striptease is sexy, funny, life-affirming and so overwhelmingly Broadway fantastique that the crowd roared deliriously at the moment of truth. Performed by Stages St. Louis through August 19 at the Robert G. Reim Theatre, 111 South Geyer Road, Kirkwood. Tickets are $46 ($43 for seniors; rush seats for students and seniors $15 at the door). Call 314-821-2407 or visit www.stagesstlouis.org.

Paul Friswold

I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change An intrepid group of local producers is trying to make a long-run go of this sketch-y evening that chronicles, spoofs and sometimes even satirizes mating rituals from the first date to the final farewell. They just might pull it off, because — as staged with verve by St. Louis theater veteran Bobby Miller — this musical revue is rambunctious, breezy and just ribald enough to keep viewers chortling from beginning to end. An ideally suited ensemble (Michael Jokerst, Alan Knoll, Chopper Leifheit, Lee Anne Mathews, Laurie McConnell, Rosemary Watts) cavorts through a fast-paced evening of mostly humorous skits that allow everyone a chance to shine. Sitting through the show is like chewing a wad of bubble gum: after a few hours it begins to lose its flavor. But the sheer act of watching so many people have so much fun — both onstage and in the audience — bespeaks success. Open-ended run at the Playhouse at West Port Plaza, 635 West Port Plaza (second level), Page Avenue and I-270, Maryland Heights. Tickets are $41 to $46. Call 314-469-7529.

Dennis Brown

 
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