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Oakland’s ‘Full Monty’: too long, but enjoyable



Published: Sun, May 4, 2008 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Milan Paurich

Most of the production numbers lack energy.

The Oscar-nominated 1997 film “The Full Monty” ran a fleet, streamlined 95 minutes.

David Yazbek and Terrence McNally’s “Monty” musicalization runs considerably longer than that. Most of the extra time is expended on Yazbek’s songs, none of which are particularly hummable or memorable. Breezy indifference versus an hour-plus of mediocre melodic padding: Doesn’t seem like a fair trade, does it?

The “Full Monty” production that opened Friday night at the Oakland Center for the Arts to a packed house at least has the benefit of some gifted actors to make those additional minutes tick by a little quicker. But there’s no getting around the fact that “Monty” — like so many other movies that have received the Broadway musical treatment these days (“Legally Blonde,” “Young Frankenstein,” “The Wedding Singer,” et al) — worked better on screen and that the score is nothing to write home about.

Because the original “Full Monty” was a thoroughly British creation, the new “Monty”’s Yank book writer (McNally) and composer (Yazbek) have, not surprisingly, transposed the story and characters to an American setting, specifically Buffalo, N.Y. It’s one of their few inspired touches. Of course, if McNally really wanted to relocate the story to an economically ravaged, midsize American city, he could just as easily have picked Youngstown.

The plot and characters will be familiar to anyone who’s seen the film.

Unemployed steel workers Jerry (Ric Panning) and Dave (Tony Scarsella) decide to stage a one-time-only strip show featuring “real men” like themselves for the delectation of the local ladies who’ve been frequenting a Chippendales-like club. In short order, the guys manage to recruit four other down-on-their-luck dudes to share in the humiliation: suicidal mama’s boy Malcolm (David Munnell), “Big Black Man” Noah (Kenneth Brown), anatomically blessed Ethan (Gary Shackleford) and henpecked Harold (Brandon Smith).

Helping the boys rehearse for their big night is pianist/den mother Jeanette (Anna Frabutt), a role that didn’t exist in the “Monty” movie and which feels thoroughly redundant on stage. Jeanette’s big number (“Jeanette’s Showbiz Number;” duh) may be the closest thing to an old-fashioned showstopper here, but director Robert Dennick Joki’s lackluster staging prevents it from bringing down the house.

The somewhat rudimentary choreography — credited to Richard Bell — could have used some additional polish, too. Most of the production numbers are curiously listless and lacking in the sort of kinetic energy one expects from even a second-tier musical like this one. The major exception is the Act One closer, “Michael Jordan’s Ball,” in which the gang incorporate their favorite basketball gyrations to help get their collective grooves on during a particularly dismal rehearsal.

If I’m making “The Full Monty” sound like a chore to sit through, it’s not.

While the script could use some judicious trimming in its present form (especially in the overlong first act), Joki has been blessed with an appealing cast, even if some of the roles seem slightly miscast. Panning does a nice job as Jerry; unfortunately, he doesn’t look a day over 22. The fact that Jerry’s “son” is played by an actor (Joey Monda, nicely understated) who appears to be about the same age as his “father” was a suspension of disbelief I simply couldn’t make.

As likable as they are, neither Munnell or Shackleford are particularly credible as steel worker types. (The gratuitous subplot about Malcolm and Ethan coming out of the closet and falling in love during rehearsals probably should have been dropped since it adds nothing to an already overlong evening.) And the wisecracking Frabutt simply isn’t “mature” enough to convince me that old trooper Jeanette could have ever worked with the likes of Eddie Fisher, Buddy Greco and Frank (Sinatra).

A terrific Scarsella brings a Kevin James-ish everyman quality to doughy, disgruntled Dave that made him the clear audience favorite on opening night. Also very good are Brown; Alecia Sarkis (Dave’s long-suffering wife); Heidi Davis (Harold’s high maintenance wife) and the dependably great Eric McCrae as a professional male stripper who turns up briefly at the beginning and end.

The typically unprepossessing Oakland set features a wall-mounted urinal that’s front-and-center for the duration of the show; not a great idea or an appetizing sight. Somebody should have also noticed that Malcolm’s car has an Ohio — instead of New York — license plate.

As for the peek-a-boo male nudity promised in the title, I won’t spoil the surprise by revealing just how “full” a “monty” Joki really delivers. The sexually suggestive nature of the material — and some occasionally raunchy language — make it unsuitable for family audiences, however.


Comments

1Dennick(160 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

Wow. Sounds like a terrible show. The cast must have received standing ovations both nights because people were in a hurry to leave.

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2Dennick(160 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

And Milan, your obsession with Eric McCrea was hilarious for the first few months...but now it's just creepy.

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3Dennick(160 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

I urge everyone to come see this show for yourself and form your own opinion. My cast worked very hard to put together a quality performance for the patrons of Youngstown theater...they stood on stage and bared their souls AND their bodies in the spirit of true collaborative art. I stand firmly by our product. The opening night audience loved this show. There is no question in my mind. If you see the show and agree with all of Milan's critiques, I will personally refund your admission. Please feel free to contact me at robertjoki@aol.com.

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4backstagediva1(17 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

I dont agree with you Milan. the show couldnt have been that bad! The cast recieved a standing ovation both nights! i will agree that the show was a tad long but it was because the audience was laughing their butts off during the show!! You must remember that the play is about steel workers NOT professional dancers. I think they are supposed to look bad dancing DUH!! The men of Full Monty need to be commended for their hard work and their ability to "bare" their souls and what nots on stage. Everyone should just come and see for themselves.And as for the musical numbers, they have great energy and the tunes are funny.You forgot to mention Geri Tichnor who does a great job as Malcolm's mother in her very brief appearence. I think the whole cast did a fantastic job!!! Seems like, as I recall, the only one who was in a hurry to leave was you, Milan. Not only am i a fan of the show, i am a cast member also. So anyone and everyone come see the show and judge for yourselves. you wont be dissapointed and you will have the time of your lives!

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5backstagediva1(17 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

Oh and one other thing Milan. Malcolm has an Ohio plate on his car because he moved from Ohio to New York becuase the mills closed in Ohio and thats why he is suicidal because he ended up losing his job in New York too. You really need to pay closer attention to the show!

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6Rbell(5 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

I always wonder why not a lot of people come to audition for shows in this area. Then I read the vindy review and realized, why would anyone want to even try COMMUNITY THEATER, when their just going to get there ass handed to them on a silver platter by Milan. It takes a lot for someone to put their self out there, and try. It's sad it takes so little to overmind that. Everyone is great and I love watching the show come to life everynight. And from what I have heard the audiences love it to.

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7Perspective(4 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

Community Theater is just that: COMMUNITY. It's a process of bringing together diverse individuals to work collaboratively on a product and present it to the COMMUNITY. No one pretends (hopefully) that a local community theater is meant to put out Broadway level productions. But the people involved share something in common; a love of performance, a love of collaboration, or a passion for entertainment; to name just a few of the possibilities. I am part of the cast of this show and I've watched as dedicated individuals worked to bring this show to fruition. The director, faced with many obstacles, assembled the best cast he could. Remember, again, this is COMMUNITY Theater and the cast is created from people brave enough to audition. He remained focused and positive throughout the process. The actors worked daily, not only on lines and music, but on the issues that go with the exposure of their bodies to the public. Every member of this cast is part of an ensemble from the most line-laden role to the smallest of roles - all with the focus of bringing a production to the stage for the ENTERTAINMENT of the COMMUNITY.

After reading Milan's review I wonder if he has any idea of what COMMUNITY is. He wastes the first column of the vindy review on the critique of a script, not a performance. He pokes fun of Youngstown and the blight and despair it's endured from the loss of its steel mills. He suggests "trimming" the script of another writer; that is, in itself, an insult to the talent of the creators of the play. Perhaps someone should trim Milan's writing instead. From there he rips performances and tosses in a slight compliment from time to time. Milan, Youngstown is your paycheck, is it your COMMUNITY? There are ways to make valid points of criticism while remaining positive and supportive of a COMMUNITY event. Perhaps you need to revisit journalism 101 and stand behind your COMMUNITY rather than against it.

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8ricpanning(5 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

wow way to spark a debate my man.
though i do think some praise is in order. thanks milan for saying i look 22. actually yesterday was my 28th birthday.

how did i spend it?
oh how sweet of you to ask.
well it started out swell. i had to run lines with an understudy (who did amazing by the way) while trying to calm the nerves of our directer, who has literaly pulled more miracles to make this show happen than david blaine, kriss angel, and jesus combined.

oh then there was the part of going on stage not being a professional actor and showing my buisness to the paying public. though im not alone my fellow brave actors also gave their all for the sole benifit of entertainment.

oh then the after show. everybody was so upset and bothered by the license plate that they rushed out of the theater and rioted! it was insane.

i never would have guessed that i would bear my ass only to have it served back.

i wonder why its so difficult to pull these productions off?

i dunno.

oh well im glad we had this talk.
to all the people who saw and loved this show. to everyone who left the theater drying their eyes and shaking from excitement. to everyone who stood in a line to say good job and congrats and threw an occasional hug or handshake.
im sorry from the bottom of my heart.

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9dahveed(3 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

"Vindy reviewer fails with his biased and uneducated opinion"

For those of you who have the chance to read the local Vindicator entertainment section may want to think twice about who you are looking to for your daily dose of current events. Especially if you're looking for a publication which seeks to support its community.

Milan Paurich begins by showing local readers just what theatre is- community or otherwise, with his biting reviews toward current writing on Broadway and what he views as gratuitous use of music in a musical. Seems like a bit of a contradiction, doesn't it?

He then proceeds to critic the staging and choreography which he claims is lackluster and rudimentary. It's interesting to think that a group of out of work steelworkers would be world class dancers. I mean, I've never been to Buffalo, New York, but it sounds to me like they tap dance behind their assembly lines daily and at night hold dance offs to prove who is more masculine. Or at least they should according to Mr. Paurich's review.

And then we come to Mr. Paurich's opinion on how a director should cast. Obviously, the Oakland should be taking its casting call to New York and Chicago to find just the right people to play the characters. What were they thinking trying to cast a show within the area of Youngstown?

Finally, we come to the most outrageous claim made by the reviewer: Cutting the script. Obviously what the writer has written isn't relevant to what they are saying at all. And it seems to me that another so called writer would understand that point. You cannot cut a show because you don't agree with the message. That is why it is there in the first place.

So, I leave with this: I challenge the Vindicator to review their writers' ethics in journalism. This review is one of the most biased reports I have EVER read. Your blatent regard for some performers is extremely clear and outside of that circle you obviously don't pay attention.

However, I'm sure if this was done at the Playhouse with the same cast you would rave about how wonderful it is. Makes a reader wonder where this reviewer's intentions truly lie.

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10Rbell(5 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

I have taken some time to think about the comments in regaurds to my choreography. At first i thought, maybe i did put crap on that stage. But after going through all of the musical numbers I worked on i came to the conclusion. I did my job, and I did it pretty well. The opening number "Scrap" is about guys receiving their final paychecks, losing their jobs. Sorry I didn't break out the tape shoes so the men can truely put on a show about how pissed off they are about losing their jobs.

The number "life with Harold" Takes place in a dance studio, where amatuer people go to learn latin dancing. Its not dancing with the stars, its everyday people trying to learn to dance, so i guess i'm glad i didnt put in the showstopping dance number with lifts and throws.

I find it funny you didn't even comment on Kenny Brown's number "Big Black Man" which was loaded with dancing and brought down the house. Maybe the title explains why he wasn't even mentioned.

It is my job to be true to the script and true to the ideals of the show. There is no room for huge elaborate dance breaks, thats not what the show is about. I mean do you pay attention to the show or just sleep till the big showstopping dance number. Because the show i see does everything it needs to do.

Come to think of it i think i got the same review from you in "jekyll & hyde" at the Youngstown Playhouse when i didn't have the people of london tap dancing down the streets BEFORE THEY DIED.

I do my job, and I'm pretty sure I do it well. I think you should consider the quality of work you are producing before slamming everyone else's.

P.s. i talked to the costume designer and im gonna add a dance break from A CHORUS LINE to janette's number so I need me some glitter vests and body suits.

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11AccidentallyIsolde(8 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

I guess I must have gone a different day...

The audience that I was a part of rode the ride with this cast from beginning to end.

Laughter, tears, screams of excitement...I think you would be very hard-pressed to find an audience more sucked into the production they were watching.

It kills me that the review that I read today doesn't even remotely reflect the performance that I saw. I will of course admit that this show wasn't perfect, and that it did have some areas that could have used some more polishing or improvement.

However, the cast had a triumph in this performance, and if any of them are reading this, I want them to know that I will be there again...hopefully twice...next week, searching for these "irredeemable flaws..."

Because I'm giving it a 10.

("And NOT based on the booty")

-AI

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12helenj(11 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

What a bunch of thin skinned cry babies. For a group of people who claim that Milan doesn't know what he's talking about, you all do pay an awful lot of attention to his opinion. You're like the audience on American Idol. Simon says something honest yet painful, and everybody boos. Do you really think that the show was perfect? Do you really think that you produced a show above any and all reproach? And after all the crap that the folks at the Oakland dumped on Milan on the message boards, do you still think that he's going to be completely objective?

You cry and cry and moan and moan. I'm sure that you would prefer reviews like the one on Valley24. According to that one the show was "flawless"? Really? Mr. Joki, can you honestly say that the performance you saw Friday night was "flawless"? If you are at all honest with yourself, you cannot. No good director ever would.

So you all had a tough time pulling the show together, boo hoo. Welcome to theater. If you want to take a big bite, you're the one that has to chew it. Even if you only get 6 people to show up for auditions. HA!

I notice that no one points out that in the headline the show is called "enjoyable". Further, it encourages people to attend. But that is a bad review, I guess. It seems that the "bad parts" of the review are when people are mentioned by name. Seriously, if you are so insecure that a one sentence mention of you for work in a community theater show makes you jump up on a soap box, you have problems.

TAKE A LITTLE CRITICISM! And for those that think you knocked it out of the park opening night, I think your bar is set a little low. It was an energetic performance with a few rough patches. A couple of the numbers weren't as tight as they could have been. (And yeah I get it, they're steelworker, not dancers. They were also slightly underrehearsed community theater actors. Deal.) And half of the dialogue in the second act was delivered by actors standing well outside of their light. Sloppy.

But I'm sure that everyone will have a hissy fit that I dared even say THAT much.

I would assume that the show will be much crisper by closing weekend. But since the show has already been done "flawlessly" I won't bother to come back. David Munnell and Kenny Brown were awesome. Tony Genovese was also very good. Once again, I'll leave anything that may personally name some one and not kiss their ass to myself. Every part in the play was performed absolutely perfectly and the Oakland Center for the Arts has set a new standard of excellence that no one, not even they themselves can surpass, so the final two weekends of "Monty" have been cancelled because they simply couldn't surpass the level of artistic acheivement that was established.

And the playhouse is mean
And YACTA is fixed .... unless you win

And I'm pretty sure that Laughing Crow wrote the review of Jekyll and Hyde, not Milan.

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13Alan84(9 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

First off Helen.. Tony Genovese wasn't in the show.. he's living in Florida right now. Shows how much you pay attention. Also, I don't really understand why this must go on.... If you attended the show you would have seen the show stop on numerous occasions due to audience laughter, the standing ovation and great smiles as people left the auditorium. That is a win. Even if one person is affected it's a win.

Laughing Crow once reviewed a show at YSU and gave away the ending to the show. Somebody was outraged enough to even write the opinion section about her lack of respect for the show itself. I didn't care, it didn't phase me I simply remember the effect it had on the mother in the audience who held both of her children and cried at the end as the mother in the play watched her child slip away. That moment is and forever will be etched into my brain.

As for Milan, yes he's allowed to have his own opinions and whether they are good or bad they are still opinions. Does he write great reviews.. No. Simply said Milan and most of the Vindicator reviewers spend the majority of the "review" critiquing the work of the author instead of "reviewing" the production. Either that or they just tell the whole story and write on small paragraph about the actual performance. In this review particularly, you can see Milan's perversion for Eric Mcrae as his favorite performer. (if you'd like to call it that.. ) Milan had the audacity to point out that certain cast members don't look like they work in a steel mill but oddly enough Mr. Mcrae looks nothing like a chip n' dale's stripper yet that is not mentioned.

As with any show there are it's ups and downs, I've seen miscasting at every venue I've been to from Youngstown to Broadway and places in between. I've seen technical blunders, bad understudies and everything else but what I don't understand is why there is the need to call out these performers as "cry babies." For some of the cast this is their first musical, for others it's just one of many but in any case a review such as this that really puts a show down is going to strike a chord in their hearts. These men who are not what every woman fantasizes about are dealing with the same issues as the men in the play.. it's just not that easy to be in your underwear in front of a hundred people when you're fat, too skinny, balding, old, etc. Would you do it Helen?? Milan??? Anyone???

After rehearsing 5 nights a week 4 to 6 hours a night having the joy of opening night ripped away by a review is not easy to swallow and for an amateur group of actors they will respond. Maybe not in the best way or right way but they will fight for something they've sweat over, something they believe in.

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14Alan84(9 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

It doesn't matter who RBell was talking about when he mentioned the review.. the point of that comment was to express the face that this like Jekyll and Hyde isn't really a dancing show, it's very pedestrian. So no the musical numbers are not going to be heavy with movement like a "typical musical." Could the choreography have been better, smoother, more well put together, tighter??? Yes. Some of that could be the choreographers fault but some of it goes to nerves. Did you see the guys, if i remember correctly they didn't really look like they knew much about dancing. I watched "Michael Jordan's Ball" from the Broadway production, which you can see on YOUTUBE.com and it's not that great. They pretty much run basketball drills for 5 minutes and not much else. And, If you watch "Let it Go," you will also see "dumbed down movement" in respect to the script and the fact that these are not dancing men. Is it more polished .. Yes. It's Broadway, they're paid. The rehearse 8 hours a day before they do a show at night. They don't juggle three jobs, rehearsal, family and school. They can solely concentrate on the show.

Speaking in terms of polishing, If I head correctly there were a couple of deaths throughout the rehearsal process and some actors were not able to be there for a period of time due to these emergencies. I couldn't imagine having to act with an invisible person the three days before opening night.

I believe Jekyll and Hyde at the Playhouse was cast with an 18 or 19 year old as the lead with the rest of the cast just as young, or slightly older. Was that ok??? According to the reviewer, it was. It didn't seem to bother them, they reviewed the performances themselves. Which is what this is all about. Personal attacks on people is not good, healthy or what this area needs. There's already so much competition for these tiny theaters for actors, money and resources, why make it harder?

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15Alan84(9 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

I'm not agreeing with everything that has been posted with the people involved, they're upset and are saying things they need to help them get the courage and strength to bare it all again next weekend. I'm also not agreeing with what Milan is saying either. What I will say is that there is a correct way to write a review, there is also and way to do it tastefully and I think Milan did not achieve that in this review. To say that there are good points is an understatement. Most of the comments Milan makes could be a positive if it weren't for the follow-up back handed remarks. For example.. let's replay the "Dog Sees God" review by Milan..

"As a result, you’re more likely to leave the theater crying than laughing. Of course, the suicide of a major character in the second act pretty much guarantees a weepy outcome."

Than my friends is a classic Milan.. did he see the play???? At the end, Charlie Brown finally receives a letter from his pen pal, the letter states that Schroder is in heaven with Snoopy and Woodstock and that he is with them. Also, to not hate him for killing himself and to keep his chin up because it will get better. If that's not emotional enough we find out the the pen pal is none other than Charles Schultz. As the audience left crying that I think would be a pat on the back for the actors in the show because after all it is a drama. Milan was probably so upset that Mr. Mcrae was not in the steamy boy on boy make out scene that it clouded his vision and he didn't pay attention to the rest of the show.

So enough of the crap... a note for Helen.. back off why do you care if you saw it and were thinking about going back again.. SO GO BACK AND SCREW MILAN. Leave it alone.

For the people involved... Milan obviously has issues within himself and wishes he were someone other than Youngstown. You are what you make of yourself. You all received and standing ovation both nights, you had people laughing, crying and clapping. The audience was cheering for you the whole final number. The believed in you, so believe in yourselves. You are what you make and I believe that you have a great show your passion is seen. The moments that shine really truly shine and you make it what it is, a decent, low-budget, difficult to put together community theater show that the public loves. Take what you have and run with it. Life's short. Enjoy being naked on stage while it lasts. Not everyone can say they've bared it all for 300 people. There's a level of respect that goes out to any performer. And I give you all the respect I have. I have faith in you guys. Good Luck on the rest of your run and Good Luck to all the other theaters doing shows (Easy Street, TNT and the Playhouse). Youngstown theater is getting better and better every time I see it. Keep it up kids, You've done well.

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16Dennick(160 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

Helen, darling, you are putting words in my mouth. I never said THE FULL MONTY was "flawless". I assure you that as the director, I know this show's weaknesses better than anyone. I don't have a problem with constructive criticism if it comes from a valid, unbiased source.

I respect Andy Gray. I respect Guy D'Astolfo. I respect Katie Libecco. I respect Sarah Poulton. These individuals all write reviews for local publications. They have all critiqued my shows and the reviews are not always positive. Andy Gray has ripped my work to shreds on numerous occasions but I don't have a problem with that because his reviews are constructive as opposed to mean-spirited. He offers advice in order to facilitate improvement. Milan's harsh criticisms seem to stem from his own bizarre agenda. I find his reviews to be counterproductive, inconsistent, and severely lacking integrity. He has his favorites...people who court him...people who join him for "lunch"...people who make his top ten list...and everyone else is at his mercy? I refuse to accept that.

And as for "all the crap that the folks at the Oakland dumped on Milan on the message boards" ...the problem with message boards is that anyone can assume a user name and say whatever they want. People claiming to be "folks at the Oakland" or "friends of the Playhouse" are not necessarily who they say they are. I read that message board and it took me about five minutes to realize that the entire string was OBVIOUSLY generated by about five people who kept coming up with different user names. It is for this reason that I posted my full name and email address along with my comments on this page. Speaking of which, Helen dear, who are you again?

When the Oakland puts on a bad show, and believe me we have put on our share of snooze fests, I am the first person to say so. My faith in THE FULL MONTY is based entirely on the audience reaction...which was amazing. A good actor/director doesn't need a review to tell him whether he did a good job. The audience loved my little "low budget...under rehearsed...miscast..lackluster...
rudimentary" underdog of a show. You can't take that away Helen, love. Neither can Milan.

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17BottledWater(2 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

Are you people insane? It was a local review, in a local paper, by a local person? I was in the audience opening night and I have to wonder if some of you saw the same show I did? As the person who reviewed the show said, "IT'S ENJOYABLE" and it is. It had some moments that were very nice, and quite frankly some that weren't. I agree with the reviewer when it's stated that some movies should stay just that....movies. The transitions from movie to state and vive versa works in some situations, but not in this one. I didn't even see the script but I've done and seen enough theater to realize when a script is a little flat.
But I commend Mr. Joki for taking the script and turning into something enjoyable.

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18BottledWater(2 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

Sorry didn't mean for that to post yet. The reviewers comment about the license plate was unnecessary, but myself I found the urninal in the middle of the state distracting, and rather distasteful in a following scene. But's that just my opinion. Bottom line folks it was just once person's point of view, was it worth of a "Tony"? No.
Will it win a YACHTA? Who cares But I will end this with one comment. As for it receiving a standing ovation, don't read to much into that. Standing ovation's don't have the honor they used to have. There was a time when a standing ovation was given to something that was truly outstanding and worthy of it. Today a baby can gurgle and goo and suddendly it gets a standing ovation. Wake up little diva's you're in Youngstown, Ohio. If you're going to get this bent out of shape over a little review in a local paper, what on earth are you going to do when and if you make it to a big stage?

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19Alan84(9 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

Bottled... follow up to my comment on having something ripped away....

Your standing ovation comment.. once again back handed. They do have power. I saw The Color Purple in Cleveland, it took the audience until the lead bowed to stand up. Why? You ask. The show sucked. Nothing deserved a SO except the girl who never left the stage. To have the audience on their feet does mean something. Let's look at some examples...

Grey Gardens. No SO until Christine Ebersole and Mary Louise Wilson graced the stage for their bow. Tony award winning performances.

Xanadu. Immediately. The audience had so much fun that they were standing up and dancing to the music before the cast had even left the stage.

Legally Blonde. Horrible. The audience didn't budge until stage diva and legend Orfeh entered for her bow. Not only that but they screamed for her and not so much for the other leads.

As for Youngstown shows I've been to shows where the audience doesn't move. That my friend can be just as powerful as a SO. So why don't you take yourself to the sink, uncap, and dump because I think your tamper seal is broken. Let these kids and NON-PROFESSIONALS fight for themselves. Did you not understand that. Watching their faces up there you could tell that they were relieved to show their bodies on opening night and you could almost hear the sigh of relief as the anxiety left their bodies. LET THEM ENJOY IT. I mean if I stole your child's first place ribbon for the school science fair, you'd be upset too. Really though, It's just a stupid science fair, but in our eyes that ribbon hold meaning. As does ANY SO. The show may not have been the best thing in this area but at least the audience applauded the cast for their hard work. That my friend is what it's about. Having RESPECT for something that so many people have put so much effort into.

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20Alan84(9 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

As for making it to a big stage. 90 percent of the cast isn't even planning on going to a big stage. They have careers in other fields and this is just their hobby. Something they enjoy, being able to pull together with other people to create something from the bottom up and be able to share it with others, who may be too scared to be up on stage, or may be going through similar situations as the characters. Drama therapy it helps us all escape our demons. Why do you shows good or bad touch people in different ways? There's no reason for anyone to put anyone else down here, it's Youngstown. This is so far from professional, but these people have just as much heart and that shouldn't be held against them. They will vent for as long as they can fight for their heart, let them. You're just as bad as Milan for telling them their SO is nothing. Think about it. I really hope one day you find something to believe in and have it ripped away from you. I think the stable and crew of Eight Belles knows all too well about that. She ran one of the best races I've seen in Kentucky Derby history. She ran until the very end. Literally. Yet they didn't take her pride away. They still talk about how valiant she was and not about how she could have ran faster. She's a professional and when she was put down they did nothing but lift her up. That's what this cast is doing. Fighting for themselves so that they can go on next weekend. This cast has a lot of gusto to be able to bare it all like they did. Kudos.

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21TonyScarsella(1 comment)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

First and foremost, I must thank Milan for his kind critique of my performance. Secondly, I would like to say that I have had the good fortune to land several professional acting gigs and Robert D. Joki is one of the finest directors I have ever had the privilege to work with. That is all I have to say.

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22helenj(11 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

Btw, I just wanted to say that I apologize for calling Tony Scarsella by the wrong name. I know that Tony Genovese does shows too and I simply swapped their last names in my head. You were very entertaining, Tony. Good job.

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23backstagediva1(17 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

Wow such powerful comments from everyone about Full Monty. Thanks to HelenJ for your comments especially. I love the fact that you mention the Playhouse and YACTA in your original comment seeing that Milan's review didnt mention them in his. Now who's being a cry baby? i dont know who you are, but you obviously have an issue with the playhouse(maybe you yourself auditioned and didnt get a part?) and as far as YACTA being fixed, go to the web site and join the nominations committee, then you can see first hand if they are fixed. Make an effort and get involved in the things you love talking about. It will make a big difference. thanks Milan for once again sparking such a great debate. Cant wait for your Titanic: The Musical review.

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24drtess(1 comment)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

So ... let's take this to another level of discussion. What is it about Milan's reviews of Oakland productions? His defender above indicates that he can't possibly be objective. I don't know Milan, but I imagine he wasn't pleased to read that. I have noticed that his reviews of Oakland productions often emphasize what doesn't work for him. Positive comments are understated. Negative comments are cleverly worded to get the most attention.

I keep coming back to this issue of suspended disbelief. Community theatre required a good bit of that, and the Oakland revels in it. Another term for this would be "imagination." So go with it that Ric Panning and Joey Monda are father and son. Granted, they aren't far enough apart in age, but they sure didn't look the same age in the production (nor are they). Use your imagination. David Munnell and Gary Shackleford don't look like steel workers? How about gay steel workers? I actually know some gay steel workers, and I wonder if Milan would find them believable. Use your imagination.

Musicals are by nature an offense to "belief." No, we don't really believe that out of work steel workers would sing and dance at all. I'm not sure that Milan likes his disbelief suspended. I've read a number of his reviews, and he seems to want the Oakland to be other than it is. The Oakland strives to give audiences something to care about. Judging by the audience reactions both nights, the production is a huge success.

Yes, the cast and crew are dedicated, hard-working, and courageous. Yes, they are very talented. And, yes, the production is incredibly moving and enjoyable. One of the best I've seen at the Oakland. But I want to give extra kudos to everyone at the Oakland for something else -- for never forgetting that it's all about the audience and for remembering that, to paraphrase a local theatrical legend, loving the theatre is finally more rewarding than loving yourself in the theatre.

And I'm not sure that theatre reviews should be written by someone who so evidently prefers film.

I am positive that someone who can't be objective about a particular theater should not write reviews of that theater's productions. I leave it to Milan to decide whether he is objective or not.

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25fedup(12 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

Wow; pretty interesting reading. I saw the Oakland's "Monty" this weekend and I pretty much agree with everything the Vindicator review said.
Maybe it would have been easier to "suspend" disbelief if the performances in question had been a little more persuasive. Yes, the show was miscast in several key roles (The woman who played Jeanette was all wrong for the part--maybe they should have gone in a different direction while casting the role; the two steel workers in question weren't remotely believable as s/workers; and asking two actors so close in age to play father and son was just asking for trouble.)
Yes, that urinal was a major turn-on and incredibly distracting (what were they thinking? was it a subliminal reference to male genitalia: that whole "full monty" thing??).
If there was any mention in the script of the suicidal guy moving to Buffalo from Ohio, I apparently missed it, too. The license plate stuck out for me like a sore thumb.
Community theaters trim overlong plays and musicals all the time to improve their productions. (The "outrage" at the reviewers' suggestion that the musical's book needed a few cuts was amusing at best, hypocritical at worst. The Oakland has been known to edit plays in the past, so don't act so high-and-mighty.)
The production numbers WERE largely zest-less. And the clunky, unimaginative choreography had nohing to do with the fact that the characters were steel workers and not trained dancers. I don't think the review was suggesting that they should have gone all "Chorus Line" on us; just performed their routines with a little more panache. Maybe they were underrehearsed.
One thing the review didn't mention was that the orchestra practically drowned out the singers. But since most of the cast couldn't sing anyway--Heidi Davis being a notable exception--that's probably just as well. The score isn't very good either.
I thought the review was trying to put as positive a spin as possible on an extremely uneven--and definitely overlong--show.
Tony Scarsella easily gave the best male performance.
It was interesting that Joki is so thin-skinned about being criticised. If I recall, the Milan reviews of his last few Oakland shows (the Peanuts one and the Christmas double-bill) had very nice things to say about his direction.
And using the Tribune's reviewer as an exemplar of theater criticism is hilarious. Andy has been a laughingstock in the community for two decades now, and I doubt whether anyone--except community theater people looking for the type of easy affirmation they know his "book reports" will inevitably give them--even reads his drivel. Or puts any stock in anything he writes.
P.S.= Standing ovations in community theater are easy, especially since the audience is traditionally stocked with friends/family members of the cast and crew.

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26fedup(12 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

Could someone explain to me why Fran had to play three roles??? I know that they love her down at the O because of all of her volunteer work, but the woman cannot act!
Rereading Joki's comments, I found it a little amusing that he took exception to Eric McCrae being singled out for his excellent performance.
It almost sounded as if he was jealous. Great sign of support for your actors, Joki!
As a loyal patron of community theaters and a regular reader of Milan's Vindicator reviews, I've never seen anything in his work that would remotely suggest he "favors" the productions of one area theater over another. His writing can be bracingly honest at times, yes, but never less than fair.
And I think that it's his honesty which tends to ruffle so many feathers. For too many years, "reviews" of local theater productions have generally consisted of a lengthy plot synopsis, a list of the cast and crew and a hearty, "Go see it!" tacked on at the end. (The Tribune doofus is a perfect example of that style of "writing.")
I personally think Milan was overly generous in his praise of "The Full Monty." My review would have been a lot more negative. That show needed a lot more work before opening night.

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27Gusto(3 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

Eric MCrae is a nice guy but let's be honest folks, he's not much of an actor. I saw FM Saturday night and Eric is hardly in the show. He shows is butt but otherwise he literally has a walk on role. I don't want to take away from his "dependably great" performance but it is somewhat strange that Milan chose to single him out when there were so many stand out performances in the show.

Milan plays favorites. I remember when Denise Scully wrote a letter to the editor criticizing Milan's review of LUV at the Oakland. Milan hunted her down and the two became friendly. Next thing you know Denise is in a show and Milan writes what an amazing actress she is and that she could hold her own in Hollywood. Milan used to constantly bash Chris Fidram. Then the two of them started talking and Chris was soon proclaimed to be the greatest director of actresses in town. Everyone in town knows that Eric MCrae had lunch with Milan in December. A month ago Milan interviewed David Elhatton and a week after that, in his review of Enchanted April wrote that David Elhatton was the "greatest actor in the state" or something completely absurd like that. In this article Milan criticizes Anna Frabutt for not being mature enough. Is it a coincidence that Milan is a friend of Barbara Evans, a more mature actress, who auditioned for the role Frabutt is playing?

My advice to Joki is to find out what these people did to win Milan's favor. The next time you do a show you might just be declared the greatest director in all the Americas!

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28Gusto(3 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

Backstagediva I can tell you exactly what the Titanic review will say. "The ship sinks but the cast SOARS" or something close to that. He most likely already has it written out.

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29Gusto(3 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

Hey fedup a standing ovation may be easy in community theater but it represents the opinion of many whereas a review represents the opinion of one.

And YACTA is not fixed.

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30Perspective(4 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

WOW! This is really getting out of hand. Folks, let's go back to the non-personalized perspective of the review and the show:

THE REVIEWER should not critique a script; there are other writing venues for that. THE REVIEWER should not insult the very community for which it writes. THE REVIEWER should not allow personal friendships and bias from their personal life sneak into a review. THE REVIEWER should give both postive and negative feedback on a show. THE REVIEWER should point out what they consider outstanding performances while non-vindictively, addressing performance weaknesses. THE REVIEWER should remember this is community theater and support its community.

Was this review PERFECT? No! Was this review totally bashing and inaccurate? No! It was one man's opinion flavored with bias and a personal agenda.

THE SHOW should be cast as effectively as possible with the audition pool and actors the director is familiar with. THE SHOW should not be pre-cast prior to auditions. THE SHOW should be choreographed to maximize plausible space and set space while honoring the flavor of the script. THE SHOW should not cut, trim, or alter the script in any way. THE SHOW should be rehearsed and polished to its maximum to entertain its audience.

Was the show PERFECT? No! Was the show ENTERTAINING? Yes! Was the show cast to PERFECTION? No! Was the show cast as well as POSSIBLE? Yes! It was a joint effort by many people to bring entertainment to Youngstown while challenging themselves to go outside their comfort zones and grow as people through performance.

I said it before and I'll say it again: Community theater is about a coming together of diverse people from all walks of life to produce a product to entertain and/or evoke emotion in an audience. Full Monty did just that.

So, how about we lighten up on the flinging of insults back and forth and stick to the objective facts:
1. Full Monty will make you laugh out loud.
2. Full Monty will help you identify with other people through its characters.
3. Full Monty will leave your wondering "what if…?".
4. Full Monty will entertain most anyone in the audience.
5. Full Monty will have you wondering why certain things were done certain ways.

Do you want affordable entertainment? SEE THE FULL MONTY. Do you want perfection on the stage? Pay over a hundred dollars for tickets to Broadway or Chicago or Toronto.

Thank you, everyone for your input, but remember; the very thing that triggered this forum was the belief that the reviewer is biased and personalizes his writings. Do we want to do the very thing we feel Milan is doing? I know I don’t. Go SEE THE FULL MONTY and judge for yourself.

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31Mgen(10 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

I doubt Rob Joki is jealous of his actors. I saw THE BOOK OF LIZ last year I became and instant fan of his. Most recently I saw his production of DOG SEES GOD and it was the best live theater production I've ever seen. I didn't think theatre could be like that: intimate, beautiful, unassuming, and real. What I like about Joki's style is that he showcases actors and scripts, not himself. He chooses shows no one else will touch and casts people no one else will give a chance and still manages to put on a great performance.

I've never been much of a theater person. I don't really understood the tendency of theater people to constantly rip apart each other's work. As an audience member I don't go to a show to pick it apart. I go to enjoy it.

As for Mr. Paurich, I realize it is his job to review shows but what I don't realize is where negative reviews like this have a place in Youngstown. I am always reading about how our local theaters struggle. At any given time at least one of them is on the verge of closing. It seems to me we are very fortunate to have these organizations and we should support them. If we lived in a larger city like New York and had hundreds of high budget professional theater shows to choose from, it would necessitate reviewers like Milan letting the public know what shows are worth seeing. No one wants to spend $100 to sit through a bad show. But we live in Youngstown, Ohio. How many other musicals are going on right now? And how much did you pay to see The Full Monty? $10? Or did you get in for free?

If you are the kind of person who goes to a show to critique it (and I am referring to fedup, helen, and bottled water when I say this) you are truly missing out on something.

I am going to see The Full Monty this weekend and I encourage everyone else to do the same. And even if it is bad, even if the cast can't sing, even if Eric McCrea's cameo is the best thing in the show, I am going to enjoy myself and support the people who worked so hard and continue to work so hard to entertain the valley.

Defend Youngstown

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32backstagediva1(17 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

Thanks Gusto. I agree that Milan probably has the Titanic review already written and that title is great!!! But seriously, i think we all need to read the last comment by Perspective. It says it all. If you do enjoy theater then go see it for the enjoyment of it. Leave the reviewing to the reviewer. If you dont like the show or you wonder why someone got this or that part, maybe you should audition for some shows. I will continue to support community theater and have been doing so for years. No one will change that. Through good acting and bad, the show will go on! Oh and by the way, Fedup this is for you: The Ohio license plate thing is what i wouldve thought ,if i was watching the show,as to why it says ohio and not Buffalo. I used what is called "an imagination". That is all part of theater, to use your imagination. So yes you are right. You missed it. And why does the tribune reviewer have to be a doofus? Cant we all just get along? Thanks Perspective for telling like it is or should be

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33buff(11 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

Honestly, I think that Eric has nice buttcheeks, but as his friend I can say that I'm sure he realizes this wasn't his best performance! C'mon Milan, I may be no expert, but anyone can see that your opinions are biased.

I am proud of the show, sure it is a little long, but it moves smoothly. The bottom line is, people are entertained.

As for the Joey Monda casting criticisms, I guess people who *know* Joey may realize he is over 18, but for the rest of the living world he appears to be 15 years old. I worked with him for an entire month and thought he was 15! If he would have been cast as a steelworker, the director would have been criticized for that! The kid can act, and he surely benefits the show.

The funniest thing about these reviews is that the people who read them are the theatre people and the cast! The rest of the audience really doesn't read the reviews, they just show up.

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34buff(11 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

Oh, and just an observation...how come I can recognize all of the people from the Oakland who commented, but the "other" people use weird names to disguise their identity?

Grow some balls, and if you can't...you can always come see what some look like at the Oakland.

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35Dennick(160 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

Buff, welcome to Youngstown theater. These message boards always amaze me because people will leave comments that are extremely opinionated...but then they hide behind fake names and email addresses. What I think is most interesting is that several of the posters seem to have intimate knowledge of our audition/rehearsal process and the people involved. It seems to me that these are clearly more than typical audience members. Thank you for being one of the very few people who isn't afraid to speak out.

And for the record, I am extremely supportive of my actors...possibly to a fault. Eric McCrea is a very good friend of mine. I've cast him in shows on many occasions. However, if I was in his shoes I would be a little embarrassed by not only this review...but several reviews over the last year in which Milan has GUSHED about him. In one review he referred to Eric as "chameleonic" and "beefy." Seriously, if I was Eric, I would be checking the bushes outside my front door for a peeping Milan.

In THE FULL MONTY, I think Eric did a good job with what he had to work with, but the part is a cameo at best...and while I think it is rude of Gusto to say Eric can't act, I do agree that there were other stand out performances that probably should have been mentioned over Eric's. And while I cannot speak for him...I am sure Eric is both intelligent and aware enough to realize this.

On Friday night the audience cheered so loudly for Kenny Brown that they were stomping on the seating banks and I was afraid the floor was going to cave in. Several minutes went by and we were unable to continue with the show because they were STILL cheering. Another character the audience loved was David Munnell as Malcolm. They laughed every time he opened his mouth and then during his solo in act two I saw people crying. Do you know how difficult that is? To make an audience laugh out loud one minute and then cry the next? It is a true sign of great acting. Milan barely mentions Munnell or Brown.

And as for suggesting that I cut certain subplots from the script entirely...are you kidding me? Terrence McNally has won like four or five Tony awards, lord knows how many Obie and Drama Desk awards, and was nominated for a Pulitzer. I'm pretty sure he knows what he is doing. I had to cut a few lines here and there because of some casting issues...but it killed me to do so because I have such respect for the author and the message he is trying to convey.

Here's a thought: I would love for Mr. McNally to critique one of Milan's reviews. Hmmmm...I wonder who the world would take more seriously?

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36helenj(11 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

Ummm.... was at opening night. You were the first to criticize Milan's assessment of "dependently great" for Eric, Rob.

And "several minutes" did not go by after Kenny Brown's numbers. It was more like 10-15 seconds. But thanks for exaggerating.

I have read many reviews on this site. Rob, you were the only one so insecure that you had to litter this board with your insecurity. Many shows receive lack-luster reviews. Only you need to validate yourself by posting back, only because this site gives you the ability to re-post.

Seriously, you are an embarrassment to everyone in this town who does shows. Most do it for self-satisfaction. Apparently you only do it for glowing reviews.

You should be ashamed of you petulant behavior.

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37helenj(11 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

Oh, btw.

If the show comes in at 2:35 closing weekend instead of the 2:50 of opening night, does that mean that Milan was right? Or does it mean that the show he reviewed had pacing problems? Please, post us the production time of the show on the last Saturday. You can explain yourself then.

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38Perspective(4 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

Helen? Just what is your real agenda here? To degrade, insult and be hateful toward Rob? Again, I'd like to repeat, there is a way to present negative opinion in an appropriate manner, unforfunately, you seem to need some work on that.

I disagree with several of your blanket comments:

1. "you are an embarrassment to everyone in this town who does shows" Excuse me? When was that survey taken and how was the data compiled because I was not aware of it. Therefore, "everyone" is an inaccurate statement.

2. "Most do it for self-satisfaction....glowing reviews" Again, maybe I missed the when you did that research project as well. Many perform for self-satisfaction (self-indulgance, validation) while others perform because they are looking for challenge. Some try it out as something new to do, others to keep empty evenings full of productive activity. Some people perform because they love THEATER and not because they love being IN theater. So, again, an inaccurate, insulting comment with no basis for it's foundation.

3. "petulant behavior" While I must congratulate you on your use of vocabulary, I question this to be an accurate adjective to describe Rob's responses. Petulant: contemptuous in speech or behavior (well that one fits your most recent post) ... unreasonably irritable, petty, immodest, saucy (hmmm I feel when one's passion is attacked, irritablitly is a normal human response however I see no immodesty in his comments nor sauciness) ...

Sorry Helen, while you may have attempted to make some kind of "point" with your last posts, you've merely accomplished the recognition that you have a personal agenda against Mr. Joki with your biased, non-founded comments.

Since your last words to Mr. Joki are "you can explain yourself then" I'd like to present the same question to you. Can you explain why you are behaving in such an angry, vindictive manner? Can you explain what your real agenda is? Can you explain why you make insulting, blanket assumptions to represent the WHOLE community theater community? Can you explain who voted you the official spokewoman (or man) for the theater community?

Or, do you believe as I believe, adults make choices and do NOT have to explain themselves, for if that's true, then Mr. Joki has no explaining to do. He's right out there, defending his cast and his product with the same passion he has every time he steps on stage, works with the touring group or directs a play. PASSION is his only driving motivation here.

Thank you for revealing yourself today with your comments. They speak loudly regarding your character as a human and a fellow member of the theater community.

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39boyinakage(20 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

Wow. I never knew that some people would stoop so low just to ruffle some feathers and fluff some egos (I'm not naming names, but it does rhyme with "Schmilan Schmourich").

To start off, I may not be an old theater veteran, but I've done my fair share of theater. I used to be a member of the theater department of YSU. Let me just say on the topic of suspension of disbelief: there sure was a lot of that going on there (though it never made it into a review).

As theatergoers (and human beings), we can decided whether or not to go to a movie or a play because of the director, the choreographer, the cast...etc, the list goes on. Having our own opinions is what makes each of us a unique individual.

One of our cast members made a good point in a discussion (that's the kind without keyboards) last night: we don't do community theater for the "raving reviews", "local celebrity" status or for the "fame and glory" that comes from doing one show-stopping musical in Youngstown, Ohio. We do it to bring even one person into the light and show them something they didn't even know existed. If doing a musical like "Monty" or "Titanic" or even "High School Musical" gets one person who lives in a 4x4 square of existence to come and see what's going on in local theater (right under their noses) then we've done our job.

Maybe everybody doesn't like a show.but maybe somebody does. One bad review isn't necessarily the product of a bad production. It could mean the reviewer is unhealthily biased, or it could mean that the production wasn't perfect. I should suppose both are correct, considering nothing is perfect.

But back to my original point; if we as actors can get one person to come and see just one show in any theater's season who doesn't hold season tickets or a YACTA card, then we are doing our jobs.

It's not about how many seats you fill or what reviewers you impress, folks. It's about how many lives you touch and how many minds you spark to some sort of thought. Instead of tearing the show, the cast and crew and the director apart, maybe this discussion board should have been asking how the show was chosen, what the process was, how the actors feel, etc. Intelligent conversation doesn't seem to go a very long way in this world anymore.

I may not be old by any standards, but I do know that we (the entire cast and crew of "Monty" and the theater community at large) put ourselves out there on the stage for our audiences. We sweat, we cry, we laugh for them. A large part of it is for ourselves, but mostly, (at least for me) it's about the people in the seats that we invite into our lives for a few hours each performance.

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40boyinakage(20 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

Is Rob Joki the greatest director who ever lived? Maybe. Is the cast of "Monty" ready to go on tour? Probably not. Is Richard Bell's choreography in the show comparable to Fosse? No. But it's not supposed to either. If everyone walked into a community theater show and expected a million dollar budget Broadway production-- no community theater would ever make any money.

It's been said before; reviews and discussions like this (the ones that push buttons and fluff already king-sized egos unnecessarily) are probably one of the reasons that people in our community don't want to come and audition for the theaters. I've actually been timid about doing theater in the area because I was dreading being reviewed. Nobody likes to undergo massive amounts of cruel and superfluous negativity. To attain the same feeling that this reviewer gave the actor, I suggest removing all of one's clothing, standing before a full-length mirror and placing a push-pin in every area of the body that is viewed as "undesirable". That's honestly what I think the reviewer was trying to do. Sure, this show may be "a 6 due to some irredeemable flaws"...but it doesn't have to be the same way for everyone. How about we just pray that people who read the review don't just happen to have the herding mentality of a sheep.

And as for this ongoing epic saga of Youngstown Playhouse vs. The Oakland Center for the Arts; it's getting a bit old. Some of us have done theater and seen theater at both venues and don't have a bias. Shocked? I know. But a lot of people like to just stay away from both theaters because they are afraid of being forced to "choose sides". I've experienced that feeling at one place more strongly than the other, that's for sure (and I won't name names), but it's just annoying. This is NOT a war, folks.

Does anybody remember how to actually give constructive vs. destructive criticism these days? That's like, (pardon my usage of your word, Mr. Paurich) "rudimentary".

And as far as the terrible review goes, i pose a challenge to Mr. Paurich: I dare you to drop your pants (and your inhibitions) and stand on a stage in front of your family and friends, your peers, people you don't know...other reviewers...show us what YOU are made of.

Or maybe a better challenge to pose is to tell you to do something you've never done before in front of people you've never met...and with a smile on your face, much like the men of our cast.

We've shown your ours...it's time to anty up, Milan.

Are you a man, or just a coward hiding behind the almighty printed word?

Sincerely,
Mr. Kage Jonas Coven

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41Alan84(9 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

Helen, PsyCare. PsyCare, Helen. I think you two are going to get along just fine.

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42fedup(12 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

I'm still trying to figure out how anyone could have interpreted this review (and we're going on week two, sigh) as "terrible."
It was a mixed review with positive and negative comments about the production.
If Oakland loyalists continue describing this as a "terrible" review, it's only to keep building their self-generated mythology about being poor, victimized underdogs versus the Youngstown Playhouse.
Good Lord, people: what would you have done if you had actually gotten a flat-out unfavorable review???

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43Dennick(160 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

Helen...2:50 is a gross exaggeration on your part, but even if you stick to that story...there are plenty, and I mean THOUSANDS of shows that run longer than three hours...from modern to classic...from respected musicals to Pulitzer prize winning plays. When The Full Monty ran on Broadway it ran slightly longer than the version we just did. If the audience is entertained, three hours is nothing.

Fedup...I never said this was a terrible review. I do, however, believe it was politically driven. And for the record, my problem with this reviewer has absolutely nothing to do with the Youngstown Playhouse. I don't have any problems or preconceived notions about the Playhouse, its staff, its actors, or its performances.

You clearly have an axe to grind when it comes to the Oakland Center for the Arts. I think it is hilaaarious that you began your post with disdain for the length of this comment board...but then followed it up with your own little tyraid against the Oakland.

The Oakland VS Playhouse "mythology" is ridiculous and childish and perpetuated by people who revel in conflict and self indulgence. I don't have time for any of that silliness because I am very busy actually DOING theater.

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44helenj(11 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

Rob,

I'll just say this, and it's because I checked. Curtain call on opening night happened at 10:48. I checked my watch. You may have started at 8:05, granted. Houses are often held, especially opening night. I'll concede the 2:50, but it was at least 2:45-ish. Granting you 3 minutes to hold curtain, which I think is a fair assessment.

Trust me, I saw another show tonight that had a 1:30 first act that should have been 1:20 with proper pacing. What I saw at the Oakland seemed like it should have gone about 2:30, 2:35 with proper holds for laughter. And yes, there was a lot of laughter. I was one of those who laughed. It was an observation.

I'm sorry that I came off so strong. I just think that if we agree to bear it all on the stage, we need to be thicker skinned. Seriously, the harshest review I've read in the last year was Milan's assessment of Joey Monda in "Biloxi" at the Playhouse. Go back and read that. Or re-read his review of "Luv". Those were harsh. Much harsher than anything you perceived in this review.

*repost*
The one weak link in the ensemble is Monda's Epstein, who never convinced me that he was a New Yorker (there's no attempt at an accent whatsoever), a rebel or an intellectual. Monda, who played class nerd Eugene in the Playhouse's recent production of "Grease," seems to be reprising his earlier role. This time it doesn't work.

I didn't see Joey post anything about that assessment. And it seems that if he had been that direct towards one of your actors specifically you, or the other Oakland supporters on here, would have flipped a lid. Stop feeling so vilified. Go back and read, Milan was pretty unkind to the leads of the last two shows at the Playhouse as well. There are a handful of talented directors in this town, and you are one. He called "Dog" one of the most enjoyable productions in recent memory, didn't he?

It's just a review. Clearly, we only read what we want to hear sometimes.

I just like to go out and see good shows. Some shows I agree with the review, some I don't. But the reviews don't dictate where I go to see shows. I've seen enough to know that the Oakland, the Playhouse and New Castle usually deliver a superior product.(and the TNT occasionally) True, they all have hiccups in their seasons. But for consistency, they are the best. I never said that "Monty" was a bad show. I saw a show that was rough, but I knew could be better. I felt the review reflected that. I just wanted someone to own up to the fact that the show didn't change the face of local theater. Those shows don't come around a lot. "Bat Boy" was amazing. "Sweeney Todd" was amazing. But I wasn't amazed by "Beauty" or "Monty". I'm entitled to my opinion.

And seriously, I checked my watch. That wasn't a guess. That was real time.

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45Dennick(160 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

Helen you are certainly entitled to your opinion. And I must say that I am glad you reposted tonight...because you seem less like a random hater and more like a real person with a valid opinion.

I agree with you about the Biloxi Blues review. Joey Monda was one of the best parts of that show. He didn't deserve what Milan wrote about him...especially when there were much weaker aspects of the production. And THAT is precisely my point. Why pick on Joey? What is the motivation? Is it random? Or is there something more?

Milan has reviewed at least five other shows at the Oakland in the last year. I was in the audience for every one of them...the very night he attended. Now, two of those shows (I won't name them out of respect for the directors) had EXTREMELY rough opening nights. In one of the shows the cast was unable to make it through the script without stopping, the tech was abysmal, and the audience reaction was indifferent. Both of those shows were given GLOWING reviews. So here is my question...why does The Full Monty get the crappy review? It was much stronger than the other shows I saw...and yet when I read this review I can't help but think he is trying to convince people not to come. He does say it is enjoyable...but his delivery is extremely reluctant.

When Milan reviewed DOG SEES GOD he said it was "rarely laugh out loud funny" which was a bold faced lie. Yes the play was sad and dramatic at times...but people also laughed their asses off. It was a dark comedy. The audience roared opening night. He also gave away the the most pivotal plot twist in the show...the suicide of a main character. He ruined the show for anyone who read the review. Also, in my experience... more people show up to see a comedy than a tragedy. His "good" review of DOG SEES GOD would have been the kiss of death if it weren't for a huge promotion effort that we launched as damage control.

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46Dennick(160 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

Could Full Monty have been better? Of course it could have been. There are ALL KINDS of flaws in this show...as there are in most local community shows on opening night. If he had complained about the set, or the lights, the costumes, or the scene changes...I would not have argued with him. Ideally, I would have liked to have had more time to work on tech before we opened. I can even deal with the comment about my staging being "lackluster"...because my style of direction does not promote the highly presentational, gratuitous blocking that is prevalent in most musicals. (You will never see someone walk around a couch twice "just because" in one of my shows)

I don't agree with what Milan wrote about my actors....or my choreographer...and the license plate thing is ridiculous. As for my casting choices, this is community theatre...you cast the show as best you can and work from there. He has no idea how FAR some of these people have come. Some of them have never been in a musical before. I am extremely proud of them and I don't think they deserve the suggestion that their parts should have been cut in order to make the show shorter. Also, he neglected to comment on the audience reaction...which you can't deny was pretty spectacular.

On a side note...the show didn't end until 11:00pm tonight. And it was pretty tight, tech wise. It's just a long show...and when you add the audience laughing and clapping as much as they do...it just gets longer.

Helen, this show very well may change the face of local theatre...just not the way you are thinking. Theater is supposed to be about entertainment, not awards...or reviews...or politics...or self indulgence...or bloated egos. I volunteer my time putting shows together to entertain people. I don't do it for people to pick them apart...or pit them against other shows. My kind of theater is not a competitive sport.

If my cast has taken anything away from this experience, I hope it's that a good performance is its own reward...and that you should trust your audience before you trust a critic.

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47Dennick(160 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

I want to thank everyone who has been supporting my cast and I...whether it be via emails, comments, or even just coming to see the show. Tonight was the second night in a row we sold out...and THE FULL MONTY is on its way to becoming the best selling Oakland show in nearly a decade. The outpour of community support has been overwhelming.

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48fedup(12 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

..only trust a critic who's a F.O.T.O. (i.e., "Friend of the Oakland");
and only trust the audience if it's loaded with friends, family and various "plants" to "spontaneously" erupt with convulsive, (extremely) well-rehearsed laughter to convince the few non family/friend audience members that they're having a yabba-doo good time.
And "Dog Sees God" was more wryly amusing than bust-a-gut funny, Joki: I think it's what's referred to in the trades as a "dramedy."

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49Dennick(160 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

Awww...you saw DOG SEES GOD too? You sure spend a lot of time at the Oakland. Thanks for supporting us.

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50Dennick(160 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

I just want to take a moment to thank fedup for keeping these message boards going. The more hateful comments he leaves...the more free publicity we get for downtown Youngstown's new hit musical... THE FULL MONTY, which is playing for only two more nights: Friday May 16th and Saturday May 17th, at 8PM, at the Oakland Center for the Arts. Call for reservations ASAP. 330 746 0404 These shows will sell out!

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51dahveed(3 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

Uhm, the audience is only filled with our family and friends? I didn't know that. I think I only knew maybe ten or eleven people at the most on any given night. I don't like being sold short. And we have "plants"? I mean, Rob watches the show every night like a good director should, but I didn't know about anyone else out there. Who are these people? I would like to meet them.

And taking a rag on the standing ovations: Way to insult the intellegence of the local population. I think you are a very nasty person, Fedup and maybe if you've had as many compliments as we've gotten on this show (From a majority of the crowd- and not the ones I know either) you'd see things a little more pleasantly.

Miss Helenj, I was ready to hate on you after reading your replies as well, but then I came to realize that you do have an informed opinion on what you're talking about. I think the problem is just miscommunication.

Our beef with the review isn't that it was bad. We all understand a bad review. We all have had them. Our problem is just the unprofessionalism of Mr. Paurich's journalism. I've heard that he used to review in New York and I think this article he has written proves why he isn't any more.

And again, we can take a bad review. We know how to roll with the punches, but come on. To say all the negative things he said and then at the end in one sentence say, "If I'm making the Full Monty sound like a chore to sit through, I'm not."

Yes, he is! That is not a good review!

Anyway, I hope you understand at least that.

P.S. I agree with Buff. Everyone using these weird pseudonyms is iritating. At least mine is obvious.

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52TheArtistifyer(14 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

The ending was ballstastic and I was in the back row! I would have gone back to see this show again in a heartbeat, it was worth well over their meager admission price. I only wish they could make more money for what they do there.

I must admit I drifted off to sleep at points earlier in the show when it seemed to be dragging too long. My narcoleptic tendencies may be to blame though.

~Karen Wennberg

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