Theatre on the edge: DAG presents ‘The Full Monty’

Photo by Sue Suchyta. The Downriver Actors Guild opens a two-weekend run of “The Full Monty” Jan. 15, with Nathan Vasquez (left) of Allen Park as Ethan, Brian Welch of Dearborn as Malcolm, Dee Morrison of Canton Township as Jeanette, John Lewis Criswell Jr. of Detroit as Horse and Leo Babcock of Saline as Harold. For more information, go to downriveractorsguild.net.

Photo by Sue Suchyta. The Downriver Actors Guild opens a two-weekend run of “The Full Monty” Jan. 15, with Nathan Vasquez (left) of Allen Park as Ethan, Brian Welch of Dearborn as Malcolm, Dee Morrison of Canton Township as Jeanette, John Lewis Criswell Jr. of Detroit as Horse and Leo Babcock of Saline as Harold. For more information, go to downriveractorsguild.net.

By SUE SUCHYTA

The Downriver Actors Guild presents the stage musical “The Full Monty” at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 15, 16, 22 and 23 and 3 p.m. Jan. 24 at the Catherine A. Daly Theatre on the Avenue, 2656 Biddle in Wyandotte.

The adult production follows six laid-off steel workers who decide to take it all off to make some quick cash as they forge friendships and regain their self-esteem.

Tickets are $16, with a $3 discount for seniors and students. For tickets or more information, call 734-407-7020 or go to downriveractorsguild.net.
Director Denny Connors of Allen Park said “The Full Monty” has always intrigued him, and he originally hoped to see the show from the perspective of a cast member until the DAG board asked him to direct it.

Connors said he wants to clear up the misconception that the show is about a bunch of guys stripping.

“This show is about overcoming personal challenges,” Connors said, “overcoming fears, believing in yourself, and finding the strength within yourself to take on any challenge and do anything you want.”

Connors said it is an adult show, with adult language, situations, and nudity.

“You do not see anything full-frontal,” Connors said. “You are going to see some backsides. But it’s done tastefully, and it’s done with the right sense of humor, to where it is not embarrassing for audience members.”

Connors said he is pleased to have a talented, experienced cast, from the leads to the ensemble.

“This is a stellar cast, with a lot of years of experience behind them,” Connors said, “with comic timing like I have never seen. They are going to give this audience a show they are going to want to talk about.”

Brian Welch of Dearborn as Malcolm MacGregor, and Leah Paige Cooley of Lincoln Park as Vicki Nichols are reprising roles they played in 2007 at the Players Guild of Dearborn.

Welch said the show, a great comedy with a strong story-line, looks at changing societal roles.

“The women have the power and the men are not as able to provide,” Welch said. “The ladies all have the jobs and it’s a complete gender role-reversal.”

Cooley said people are intrigued with the concept of men putting their sexuality on the line.

She said her husband, who is a steelworker like the lead male characters in the musical, loves the show, and is bringing coworkers with him to see it.
“It has a definite current theme,” Cooley said, “They’re looking right now at a lockout at a plant up the road, at U.S. Steel, and that’s something that goes on their mind, and I was like, ‘Who knows? This is an option for you.’”

She said the show is less about male strippers and more about the importance of a job to an individual’s self-esteem and to a family’s stability.

“This show is about how the loss of a job really impacts a family,” Cooley said, “and how open communication needs to exist in all levels of the family in order to survive a difficult time.”

Nathan Vasquez of Allen Park, who plays Ethan Girard, said he intentionally sought a role that pushed him outside of his comfort zone.

He tells potential attendees that the show is not what they might expect from the title.

“I think a lot of people get too involved with the whole nudity (thing),” Vasquez said. “People tell me, ‘Wait – the show actually has a plot?’ and it’s like ‘Yes, there are characters, there are emotions, there are other things other than being naked on stage.’”

He said he is not nervous about revealing more of himself onstage than he has in the past.

“I figure on stage, it’s not me,” Vasquez said. “I’m portraying a character, so yes, it is my physical body, but it’s not what I would do normally, so that doesn’t bother me.”

Others in the cast include Allen Park residents Lucinda Chavez as Georgie Bukatinsky, Danielle Riley as Susan Hershey, and Ashley Blevins as Joanie Lish; Michael Suchyta of Dearborn as Buddy “Keno” Walsh; Jim Steele of Lincoln Park as Tony Giordano and Marty; Southgate residents Tara Lynn Richardson as Estelle Genovese and Michele Devins as Molly MacGregor; and David McDonald of Taylor as Reg Willoughby.

Also in the cast are Brownstown Township residents Josh Primeau as Nathan Lukowski and Stephanie Primeau as Pam Lukowski; Dee Morrison of Canton Township as Jeanette Burmeister; Detroit residents John Lewis Criswell Jr. as Noah “Horse” Simmons and Jack Reilly as Jerry Lukowski; Kenny Konaszewski of Garden City as Dave Bukatinsky; Tommy Koch of Grosse Ile Township as Teddy Slaughter and Gary; Abby Hill-Kennedy of Monroe as Delores; and Leo Babcock of Saline as Harold Nichols.