Filichia Features: THE FULL MONTY is Full of Great Roles

Filichia Features: THE FULL MONTY is Full of Great Roles

By Peter Filichia on August 08, 2019

Is there any musical that offers as many roles to performers of different ages and types than The Full Monty?

You'll involve many diverse members of your community when you produce the Terrence McNally-David Yazbek hit that was adapted from the 1997 British film.

There are two great leads for men approaching middle-age. Jerry Lukowski and Dave Bukatinsky once had good steady jobs at a Buffalo mill. Then it closed, so they've been out-of-work for 18 utterly discouraging months.

Jerry's ex-wife Pam and Dave's spouse Georgie don't have that problem. They're happily employed with disposable income that they freely spend at a Chippendale's-like club.

That gives Jerry the idea of stripping for cash - eventually deciding to get Dave and other unemployed men in town to go "the full monty" - a British expression meaning buck naked.

(Worry not; the show has always used blinding lights focused on the audience at the end so that no one can see a thing.)

Georgie and Pam are fine parts for women approaching middle-age because McNally didn't write them as harpies. Georgie's still very much in love with Dave and doesn't see him as the failure he feels he is. Pam, despite divorcing Jerry, genuinely wishes him well and wants him to succeed. She gives him every possible break, leeway and indulgence for him to provide the agreed-upon child support for their son Nathan.

So here's a part for a 12-year-old boy. You can even cast a just-starting-out actor, for Nathan isn't on stage all that much and doesn't have a song.

Harold and Vicki Nichols are roles for genuine middle-agers. He was a mill supervisor, but has kept from his too-busy-shopping wife that the he doesn't have a job. "It'd kill her," Harold tells Jerry and Dave before admitting "Who'm I kidding? It'd kill me."

Make sure that your Vicki is an excellent dance partner who can do Latin dancing; it's required for her song "Life with Harold."

Approaching middle-age is Malcolm, discouraged enough to attempt suicide through carbon monoxide poisoning in his car. (Get a rusty vehicle worthy of the Rust Belt to accentuate his desperation.)

Malcolm hasn't been able to make many friends - until Ethan joins the group. In fact, Ethan - who should be a thirty-something like Malcolm -- will become much more than "just" a friend.

Part of Malcolm's desperation is that he still lives at home with his mother. Molly is an excellent cameo - one scene, seven lines and no song -- for a woman who uses a wheelchair (although that of course isn't required). You probably know a senior who yearns to have a new experience in life. Here's your chance to give her one.


There are big parts for two other seniors. A man called Horse is, as he sings, a "Big Black Man." His fancy footwork in that number must belie his age.

Then there's the senior that McNally wisely created: Jeanette Burmeister, the pianist who'll accompany the act. She's seen much more fire than rain, which we hear about in her terrific Act Two opener "Jeanette's Showbiz Number." It's a musical resume: "I've played for tone-deaf singers," she says, "and once, when I insulted Frank, I played with broken fingers."

Is there any doubt that she is referring to the man who created a company called Artanis? (Read that word backwards if you still don't know the "Frank" to whom she refers.)

In the recent excellent production at Capital Repertory Theatre in Albany, costume designer Howard Tsvi Kaplan put Jeanette in a different colored wig in each scene. This added to her character and the fun.

Oh, yes: Buddy "Keno" Walsh is another role worth mentioning. He's the male stripper in great physical shape. 'Nuff said.

Composer-lyricist Adam Guettel has written expert scores but one of his greatest musical theater contributions is David Yazbek. Guettel was first offered The Full Monty, but recommended his pal Dave, feeling that he'd do a better job.

He probably did. Yazbek showed his penchant for funky songs through many musical twists and turns. And yet, he also wrote excellent ballads, including "You Walk with Me," a veritable hymn played during Molly's funeral.

Capital Rep, which doesn't have a big stage, showed that the musical reduces well. It felt right at home here.

And making it feel even more right was the amalgam of characters. Have a good time casting all of them.

You may e-mail Peter at Check out his weekly column each Monday at and Tuesday at . He can be heard most weeks of the year on

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