Barn teases audience with naked fun

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Vida Bikales/The Barn Players

Gypsy Rose Lee and Sally Rand made stripping fashionable in the 1930s and1940s while elevating Burlesque to a more acceptable genre; but, it was Chippendale’s that invented Boylesque and exploded the phenomena of beefcake boys stripping to unforseen heights.

Ah, yes, Chippendale’s male strip shows complete with beautiful masculine bodies, ripped muscles, chiseled abs, break-away shirts, trousers, and glamourous jock straps.  Chippendale shows rocketed stripping to new heights. The traveling Chippendale’s shows traversed the country with increased enthusiasm and showed women that male strippers possessed the goods to whip them into a frenzy. Male sexuality unleashed the animal magnetism in its female audiences and as word spread, so did the anticipation of traveling beef-fest.

Vida Bikales/The Barn Pla

Chippendale’s shows enhanced the idea of a “for women only” traveling boylesque show. As such, some down and out factory workers in Buffalo, New York turn the idea into a one-night-only money-making opportunity in The Barn’s current production, “The Full Monty.” The musical comedy stems from the movie of the same name. A group of men find the cajones to dance and strip in order to meet their individual needs while searching for new employment.

“The Full Monty” tells the loveable story of a father desperate to save his visitation rights to his
son; a self-conscious man questioning his insecurities, marriage, future employment and weight; an affluent man distressed by lifestyle maintenance with his income gone; a momma’s boy faced with the reality of his mom’s declining health; an ageing African-American man questioning sexual short-comings; and a not-so-scholarly but overly endowed man with no career expectations. The sextet of men decide to bear their souls and their bodies to find their path.

Vida Bikales/The Barn Players

Of course, the women in the story see everything differently and have differing expectations and drives–beyond sexual. Without the conflicts the story fails. But put them all together and add the spark that creates the magic, a character named Janette, and “The Full Monty” delivers the love stories, the tenderness, the heart-break, the hope, the sex, and the fun. No wonder the live musical version has become a crowd favorite.

According to the Barn, “While spying on their wives at a ‘Girls’ Night Out,’ a group of unemployed steelworkers from Buffalo sees how much they enjoy watching male strippers. Jealous, out of work and feeling emasculated, the men come up with a bold and unclothed way to make some quick cash. In preparing, they find themselves extremely exposed; not merely physically but emotionally. As they conquer their fears, self-consciousness and prejudices, the men come to discover that they’re stronger as a group, and the strength that they find in each other gives them the individual courage to ‘let it go’.”

Vida Bikales/The Barn Players

The Broadway musical, “The Full Monty,” is a ten-time Tony Award nominee, by the powerhouse team of Terrence McNally (“Anastasia,” “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” “Ragtime”) and David Yazbek (“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown,” “The Band’s Visit”).

Expect an enjoyable evening with Korey Child’s version of “The Full Monty” at The Barn. Childs directed the touching story that charms audiences after challenging any director. The show contains far too many short scenes, too many scene changes, several story lines to merge, and presents a difficult casting assignment. Childs tamed the musical monster with some good scenic design, good technical backup, a phenomenal band, choroeography by Ramsey Self, and a strong cast to tell the story.

Vida Bikales/The Barn Players

As for the casting, Vicki Kerns adds the humor and pizzazz as Jeanette. One would think the part were written with her in mind. Her delivery of the acerbic character stands out, and with her flashy-costumes, she’s the dominate force on the stage. Her comedic timing shows and strengthens the already strong cast.

Give kudos to Zachery York in his Barn debut as lead character Jerry. York brings the wide-eyed-ne’r-do-well father character to life. The audience feels his passion and pain to remain part of his son’s life when his lack of income for child support threatens to rip his son from his life. York delivers the down-on-his-luck character’s high hopes yet he allows the audience to see his string of past disappointments from under-achieving and not following through on his goals.

Vida Bikales/The Barn Players

Two of the other couples in the story bring the heart. Dave and Georgie, played by Tony Francisco and Lyndsey Green share some touching scenes as their marriage suffers from Dave’s non-employment and lack of confidence. Georgie’s attempts to encourage him causes him added self-doubt. Their scene in Act II is beautifully done. The other couple of note is Harold and Vicki, played by David Loethen and Stasha Case. They play a couple who have let material possessions blind them from the emotions they feel. Both present good characters in “The Full Monty.”

Vida Bikales/The Barn Players

“The Full Monty” definitely pleases the audience. The show is heartfelt and enjoyable to watch. It coaxes and teases the audience to play along as they work toward the big finale–the full monty. (For those in the dark–the full monty is a British term for totally naked.)

The Barn’s cast for “The Full Monty” is: Jerry – Zachery York, Nathan – Grayson Aikman, Pam – Sara Crow, Dave – Tony Francisco, Georgie – Lyndsey Green, Harold – David Loethen, Vicki – Stasha Case, Malcolm – Tony Console, Ethan – Christoph Cording, Horse – Stephonne Singleton, Jeanette – Vicki Kerns, Teddy – Tyson Murphy, Keno – Andrew Tippin, Reg – Craig Aikman, Tony – Ryan Stevens, Estelle – Rachel Adcock, Susan – Shelby Bessette, Joanie – Megan Mccranie, Molly (Malcolm’s Mom) – Kathleen Marx, Ensemble – Ashley Mcguire, Ensemble – Corinne Bakker, Ensemble – Miles Wirth.

The production team is: Korey Childs, director; Kevin Bogan, musical director; Ramsey Self, choreographer; Mitch Simons, stage manager; Matthew Koehler, spotlight and projections operator; Korey Childs and Alex Perry, set designers; Korey Childs and Dan Taylor, set construction; Sarah Jeter, costume design, Alex Perry, lighting designer; Sean Leistico, sound design; Kevin Fullerton, graphic designer.

Vida Bikales/The Barn Players

The orchestra is: Debbie Allen, reeds; Frank Annechini, bass; Andrew S. Bonci, Jr., guitar; Chacko Finn, trombone; Todd Gregory-Gibbs, keyboard; Cynthia Hartwell, trumpet; Greg Tugman, reeds; Ken Tysick, trombone; Blake Vignery, drums.

“The Full Monty” runs at the Arts Asylum and is produced by The Barn Players. Show dates: Feb. 21-March 3. Tickets may be purchased by phone, at the box office prior to performances, or via The Barn Players website.

Tags: “The Full Monty” review, The Barn Players, Arts Asylum, Kansas City Theatre, Kansas City Performing Arts, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment

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