Arts & Entertainment

Actors Bare Their Souls … and a Lot More in “The Full Monty”

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The Full Monty actors during play rehearsal
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SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - What happens when several steelworkers in Buffalo, New York get laid off, causing feelings of anxiety and worthlessness?

They don’t get mad, they get naked!

With no other options in life and struggling to make ends meet, the steel workers become Chippendale dancers, strengthening their self-esteem and friendships in this musical version of “The Full Monty” based on the Academy Award nominated 1997 film; although this production is “more fun” than the film according to Nicholas Clarey who directed, choreographed and costumed this popular musical for interACT Theatre Productions; and is also the artistic director and vice president.

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“The script is written very well … very relatable, with fantastic music numbers,” Clarey said. “It’s very light with a lot of heart. It’s one of my favorite musicals.”

Clarey feels the storyline of The Full Monty makes you stop and think, whereas a lot of musicals are “all fluff.” To put it best, he said, “It’s got grit.”

Mike Cox is a handsome young comedian who took on the role of a professional Chippendale dancer in the show in order to hone his acting skills. In regard to going onstage in a G-string Cox said, “I feel weirdly comfortable. It’s gonna be fun.”

When asked what his family thought about his stripping down for the sake of art, Cox said he actually talked his family into coming to see his performance, including his two brothers who are accountants.

Erik Gaden plays Jerry Lukowski, a steel worker who got laid off. The character is a divorced 32-year-old who has a 12-year-old son, is behind in his bills, and behind in his alimony payments. Gaden raved about his co-stars saying, “It’s an absolute blast. We just gel. With six schulbs getting naked, you get to know your cast mates quickly. We all get along beautifully.”

Tasha Williams-Arroyo plays Georgie Bukatinsky, wife of Dave, who has been forced to be the bread winner after her husband got laid off. Williams called the production “an awesome piece of work,” adding that the show is relevant to today’s hard economy and job market.

Williams enjoyed working with the cast and crew who she refers to as “phenomenal.”

When asked how she felt about her male co-stars stripping down, she said, “I’m just happy I don’t have to be nude. It’s time to objectify the men and they’re great with it.”

Producer of The Full Monty and president of interACT, Eleana Svitavsky, said that despite the show’s shock appeal, it has a rich story. “Relationships are deep, not superficial.”

But because of the nature of the show, The Full Monty is attended “for more mature audiences,” said Svitavksy.

“Depending on how liberal parents are” said Clarey, jokingly, quickly adding, “But patrons under sixteen need parent’s permission.

Svitavsky pointed out that Ken Pettis, who plays “Horse” in the show is a former mayor of Maplewood.

“We’ve drawn from a diverse community,” she said, as she illustrated that actors came from all over New Jersey as well as New York State to be in the production. “We want to provide an opportunity for who wants to be in theatre … we’re always welcoming new people to join us.”

The Baird, 5 Mead St., South Orange, will be presenting The Full Monty, May 10, 11, 12, 17, 18 and 19; Fridays at 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; and Sundays, at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $18 for adults; $15 for students (with ID) and seniors; $25 for special VIP pass which includes: reserved front row seating, bachelorette party chocolate goody bag, and one raffle ticket to win the chance to be the lucky lady who briefly joins Keno on-stage during his strip feature.

For tickets and more info go to: http://www.interactproductions.org/

Or you may purchase tickets at the Box Office one hour prior to performances.

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