REVIEW: Avon Players’ ‘The Full Monty’ is Cheeky Fun

Friday night, in front of a packed audience, Avon Players Theatre put the adage — ‘Fortune favors the bold’ — to the test with the comedy musical, The Full Monty running now until September 30, 2023, in Rochester Hills, MI.

If The Full Monty sounds familiar, chances are you have either heard of or seen the 1997 British comedy film of the same name. In 2000, the Americanized version of the story hit Broadway as a musical with the book by Terrence McNally and score by David Yazbeck. And just like the film, the play is on the racy side, which means it contains adult material such as profanity, and of course, nudity. Your most significant clue to this is the name of the show.

Much like Avon Players’ production of Calendar Girls earlier this year, The Full Monty focuses on six individuals who need cash and come up with an unconventional way to get it. Set in Buffalo, New York, Jerry (Eric Rodman), Dave (Clayton Hargrave), Malcolm (Patrick Sullivan in his Avon Players’ debut), Ethan (Adam Wager), and Harold (Matt Cason) find themselves unemployed after the steel mill closes (“Scrap”).

‘Hot Metal’ heats things up in Avon Players’ production of ‘The Full Monty.’
From L to R: Patrick Sullivan, Nic Folson, Eric Rodman, Adam Wager, Clayton Hargrave, and Matt Cason.
Photo credit: Avon Players FB

Jerry and Dave are best friends with contrasting personalities. While Jerry is a miserable loudmouth barely keeping his life together, Dave is more soft-spoken, lovable, and also barely keeping his life together. Depressed and desperate, one night they sneak into a strip club to spy on Jerry’s ex-wife Pam (Lia DiFonzo) and Dave’s wife Georgie (Emily Brown). Since their significant others have been jobless, these women have been enjoying being the breadwinners for their families and are treating themselves to a night of erotic entertainment.  

The gyrating comes on strong right out of the gate with “Keno,” a Chippendale stripper portrayed boldly by Matt Druminski, who really committed to the part. In fact, a man in front of me covered his companion’s eyes during the scene! Jerry is intrigued by the fact these women are so willing to drop big bucks on strippers and with Pam threatening to ask for sole custody of their son Nathan (Robby Carrigan), he starts to create a plan to trade his flannels and jeans for G-strings and become a stripper – for one night only. Once, he can convince the others to join him that is. As you can imagine, Dave is resistant to the idea. He is overweight and self-conscious about his body. He tells Jerry, ‘You can call me Tina Turner because I’m a “Private Dancer.”’ Naturally, Jerry’s overbearing personality wears Dave down and they set out to find others to join them in this madcap adventure.

First, they find Malcom who is awkward and depressed (“Big Ass Rock”), so it takes little convincing to get him to join. Next, they go after Harold. Being the former foreman of the steel mill, he thinks the idea of stripping is beneath him. However, he still hasn’t told his wife Vicki (Lori Smith) about being unemployed and reluctantly agrees to join as the group’s choreographer. The strip-tease auditions to find the other two group members that eventually become ‘Hot Metal,’ are some of the funniest in the play.

While goofy and lacking natural dancing ability, Ethan brings other, ahem, substantial assets to the table, which immediately earns him a spot. Rounding out the group is Noah “Horse” T. Simmons (Nic Folson), an elderly man with arthritis who can move surprisingly well. During his audition (“Big Black Man”) you could tell he had the audience eating out of his hand, and the applause started well before his scene ended. It was easily one of the best and most enjoyable moments in the play. Equally entertaining is the character Jeanette Burmeister (Sue Chekaway in her Avon Players debut). Jeanette is a tough showbiz veteran who has seen it all and probably has the t-shirts to prove it. She certainly has the ex-husbands. Like Folson, Chekaway’s portrayal of her character is a breath of fresh air to the performance – ‘If you want to be in showbiz, you should be spade first.’ She becomes a mother figure to the group and isn’t afraid to tell it like it is (“Jeanette’s Showbiz Number”). At the end of the first act, this rag-tag group finally seems to find their groove from an unlikely source (“Michael Jordan’s Ball”).

Throughout the play, there are moments of doubt and insecurity (“The Goods”) among the men. Honestly, it was nice to see men with body hang-ups for once. It makes the play more of a universal experience. This play also touches on gender bias and gender role reversal. Phrases like ‘real men’ and ‘that’s a woman’s job’ land awkwardly on the 2023 landscape, but we’re dealing with material from the late ‘90s, so if you keep that in mind and just focus on the fun unfolding in front of you, it helps.

“Malcolm,” “Horse,” “Jerry,” “Dave,” “Ethan,” and “Harold” bring the heat in Avon Players’ ‘The Full Monty.’ Phot credit: Avon Players FB

Ultimately, The Full Monty offers a night out filled with laughter and hope. The audience was clearly having a good time and gleefully gave a standing ovation after the eye-opening final number “Let It Go.” And no, it’s nothing like the Disney version.

This season, Avon Players is serving alcohol at certain shows, so if you need a little liquid courage of your own, hit up the libation station in the lobby before taking your seat, leave your inhibitions at the door, and get ready to root for these heartwarming underdogs.

This performance runs just under three hours with a 15-minute intermission.

Tickets for all shows are $30. Call 248-608-9077 for tickets or order online at Discounts on matinee tickets are available for seniors and students; call the box office for details. Additionally, group rates are available by calling the box office. “Like” Avon Players Theatre on Facebook for special offers on tickets. All major credit cards are accepted. All seats are reserved. 

Grab a seat for one of these remaining performances:

  • Saturday, September 16         8:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, September 17           2:00 p.m.
  • Friday, September 22             8:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, September 23         8:00 p.m.
  • Sunday,September 24           2:00 p.m.
  • Friday, September 29             8:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, September 30         8:00 p.m.
About Sarah Hovis

Freelance wordsmith, arts appreciator, grammar geek, sports spectator, stationery snob, and world traveler, Sarah charts her own course as the owner of saliho creative. She uses her creative mind and engaging dialogue to fearlessly bring the written word to life in print and online… all while keeping a watchful eye out for the next literary adventure. You can reach her at

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