The Pinole Players are hot! Everything works. The small stage brings the characters up close and I quickly got to know them very well.
Set in the de-industrializing Buffalo, the story is packed with inversions and reversals. The men are out of work and feel useless and depressed. The play opens with Scrap, a dissonant jazz piece that sets the mood of the unemployed men who are filled with doubt about their manhood, their place in the fragmented society, their familiar roles disintegrating and above all their sacred gender.
The women are confident and have jobs, disposable income, power in the family, and an abundance of things to celebrate. Women jog energetically while the men are out of breath.
The men do not rise in opposition so much as adapt, transform and reinvent themselves in the face of defeat. Mostly comic, the story has its sad tones but the characters rally and quickly prop each other up, keeping it moving. Director Meredith Meeks uses all the resources of the stage and crew and cast to produce a dynamic, funny, serious, fateful, prescient, timely, fast-paced adventure.
Whenever I’m watching a play where I don’t know the actors, I have a moment of uncertainty and unfamiliarity. Then there is the delicious moment when the actors boldly draw the characters, stepping forth as original beings and they become my friends, people I want to know. The production features the talents of Jonnthan Ayers, Nathan Correll, Jeffrey Crawford, Hailley Field, Chris Geritz, Larry Harada, William Hester, Coco Lafaye, Stephanie Lauck, Anthony Lucido, Merle Nadlin, Nariza Paras, Wayne Roadie, Tina Rutsch, Bobby Scofield, Stephen Scott, Jeff Seaberg, Nancy Shneiderman, and Jennifer Stark. Every single one of the actors is brazen in their interpretation of their parts. I’ve never seen a musical that is so existential beneath and yet so enjoyable on the surface.
The 6-piece band is directed by Dean Starnes. Aimee Krasovich choreographs the constantly moving cast.
Full Monty’s music and lyrics are by David Yazbek, the book by Terrence McNally, and is based on the motion picture released by Fox Searchlight Pictures, written by Simon Beaufoy.
The Full Monty plays at the Community Playhouse, 601 Tennent Avenue, Pinole, CA 94564 until Feb 19, 2011. Pinole is a cute little town with places to eat and drink.
Check it out!
And on YouTube…