‘The Full Monty’ to be­gin Cap­i­tal Rep run on July 5

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - ENTERTAINM­ENT - By Bob Goepfert

ALBANY, N.Y. » If you are an actress and want to steal the mu­si­cal, “The Full Monty,” the role to play is Jean­nette Burmeis­ter.

She’s the acer­bic pi­anist ac­com­pa­nist who re­hearses with the six un­em­ployed steel­work­ers who are try­ing to earn money by doing a strip act that will in­clude a “full Monty.”

Jean­nette is a colorful, mid­dle-aged char­ac­ter who is so off-beat, direct and cyn­i­cal that au­di­ences im­me­di­ately take to her world-weary de­meanor. She makes her in­tro­duc­tory song, “Jean­nette’s Show­biz Num­ber,” a show-stop­ping mo­ment.

How­ever, if an actress would rather win the hearts of the au­di­ence, she would opt for the role of Ge­orgie Bukatin­sky. She’s the wife of Dave, one of the lead­ers of the strip scheme. He’s in­se­cure about be­ing over­weight and un­em­ployed.

The sit­u­a­tion is plac­ing a strain on Ge­orgie and Dave’s re­la­tion­ship.

One per­son who is an ex­pert on the two char­ac­ters is Su­sann Fletcher, who is play­ing Jean­nette in the pro­duc­tion of “The Full Monty,” which is at Cap­i­tal Rep July 5 through Au­gust 11.

Fletcher played Ge­orgie on Broad­way and in the show’s first na­tional tour. In re­cent years, she’s por­trayed Jean­nette in sev­eral pro­fes­sional re­gional theater pro­duc­tions. Though she loves both char­ac­ters, it is the show for which she has the deep­est af­fec­tion.

“It is beau­ti­fully writ­ten, and in a charm­ing and en­ter­tain­ing way deals with is­sues about life that are univer­sal. It also has a great score.” Fletcher ex­plains that the steel mill clos­ing and throw­ing work­ers out of a job is some­thing that per­vades all of Amer­ica. “The show con­cerns big is­sues. Un­em­ploy­ment in a small town af­fects ev­ery­one.

“And it puts a lot of pres­sure on per­sonal re­la­tion­ships.”

She says one of the things she ad­mires about the men in the show is their re­silience. In or­der to raise money, they de­cide to put on a Chip­pen­dale act. But, in­stead of strip­ping to a bikini bottom, they vow to take ev­ery­thing off. This causes a sen­sa­tion in the com­mu­nity.

Fletcher says, “The men think out­side the box. Some­times when things ap­pear hope­less you have to be cre­ative. To me, their solution is a metaphor for peo­ple who in time of ne­ces­sity have to strip away all the fears that hold you back.”

In a way, she says Jeanette also has to face re­al­ity. “She once toured with jazz greats and is now re­tired and put out to pas­ture in Buffalo. She’s been mar­ried eight times, and can hold her own with any man. I see her as hav­ing a big heart, de­spite her crusty na­ture. I be­lieve after this she’s go­ing to find other places to play. This is help­ing her find her­self as well.”

Per­haps chan­nel­ing Jean­nine, she says mov­ing from the youth­ful Ge­orgie to the older Jean­nine is “cross­ing the great di­vide.” She says that ag­ing into dif­fer­ent roles is also a “to­tal metaphor for life.”

She con­tin­ues her thought, say­ing. “Re­vis­it­ing a show 20 to 30 years after be­ing one of the first to cre­ate a ma­jor char

ac­ter is both hum­bling and beau­ti­ful. As you as­sume a role, like Jean­nine, that has been played by many great per­form­ers you sense the ghosts of peo­ple in the room.

“We each play the same char­ac­ter in our own way. You come to re­al­ize that some roles are big­ger than the peo­ple who play them.”

Fletcher ad­mits be­ing in a happy and fun pro­duc­tion of “The Full Monty” is also a way of deal­ing with what she calls her “heart­break tour.” An­nie Golden was cast as the first Ge­orgie on Broad­way.

Fletcher won the cov­eted role for the first na­tional tour, which opened in Toronto in 2001.

Open­ing so close to Buffalo was an er­ror, she says. “The very pop­u­lar film was orig­i­nally set in Eng­land and I be­lieve Toronto au­di­ences could not for­give mov­ing it to Buffalo,” she says. “The eco­nomic de­pres­sion in the neigh­bor­ing city made the show too real for Cana­dian au­di­ences.”

The poor re­cep­tion meant the next stop on the tour — Chicago — would make or break the tour. “We opened on Septem­ber 12, 2001 — the worst day in my life. We were all in shock. I hardly re­mem­ber per­form­ing. After 9/11, au­di­ences changed, New York changed, the world changed.”

Fletcher is a vet­eran of six na­tional tours and , yes, even­tu­ally did get to take over for An­nie Golden to play Ge­orgie on Broad­way, but it too was a short run. “I felt I had the rug ripped out from un­der my dream role. But now the ex­pe­ri­ence of see­ing a great per­for­mance of the role by a terrific actress at Cap­i­tal Rep (Doreen Burns) makes me feel the cir­cle is com­plete.

“Be­ing on stage in a play I love, watch­ing two young peo­ple fall back in love, is a great place to live. I swear no one in the au­di­ence has a bet­ter time than I do at “The Full Monty.”

“The Full Monty” at Cap­i­tal Rep in Albany. July 5-Au­gust 11. For tick­ets and com­plete sched­ule call (518) 445-7469 or go to cap­i­tal­rep.org

DOU­GLAS C. LIEBIG PHOTO

Mem­bers of “The Full Monty” com­pany: Top, from left, Kevin McGuire, Lyn Philis­tine, Christo­pher Sut­ton, Eddie Mal­don­ado, Pa­trick John Mo­ran, Kim­berly Doreen Burns, Christo­pher M. Howard. Bottom, from left, David So­co­lar, Reg­gie White­head

RICAHRD LOVRICH PHOTO

From left, Pa­trick John Mo­ran, Reg­gie White­head, Christo­pher Sut­ton, David So­co­lar, Eddie Mal­don­ado, Kevin McGuire in “The Full Monty.”

RICAHRD LOVRICH PHOTO

From left, Kevin McGuire, Reg­gie White­head, Eddie Mal­don­ado, Pa­trick John Mo­ran, David So­co­lar per­form in “The Full Monty.”

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