Bittersweet Endings

The ending of something sweet is always bitter. As The Full Monty comes to a close at Lauderhill Performing Arts Center, I take time to reflect being part of this wonderful show.  This was definitely a show to remember for so many reasons, the biggest reason is I’ve never been in a show where actors get naked on stage every night! If you’re familiar with the story of The Full Monty, then you know how funny it can be, but to those who don’t… it can be rather jaw dropping. That was the most enjoyable part for me  as a cast member, watching people experience The Full Monty every night.

Based on the hit film of the same name, “The Full Monty”, a ten-time Tony Award nominee, is filled with honest affection, engaging melodies and the most highly anticipated closing number of any show. While spying on their wives at a “Girls’ Night Out,” a group of unemployed steelworkers from Buffalo sees how much they enjoy watching male strippers. Jealous, out of work and feeling emasculated, the men come up with a bold and unclothed way to make some quick cash. In preparing, they find themselves extremely exposed; not merely physically but emotionally. As they conquer their fears, self-consciousness and prejudices, the men come to discover that they’re stronger as a group, and the strength that they find in each other gives them the individual courage to “let it go.”

This show was a shift for me because it was very different than any other show I had been in. Even though the men are the “leading players” in this story, it was fun being a girl in the show. I played Estelle Genovese, Jerry’s “occasional girlfriend.” Estelle was bold, loud, obnoxious and a bit trashy BUT had fantastic taste. She was extremely FUN to play! Even though my role was a bit of a “princess track”, meaning I didn’t have a lot of lines and the pressure of a lead role, it still had its challenges.

The challenge was that I was NOTHING like my character. She is trashy. I’m classy. So I had to really dig deep and challenge my inner actor to find what my version of Estelle would be. First, it started with the voice. Estelle needed to be loud, annoying and from New York. I thought to myself, “Who can I use as inspiration for her voice? FRAN DRESCHER!!” This by all means is NOT an insult to her, but a compliment! So I started doing my research by watching The Nanny. I would watch this show and imitate her voice and accent, it truly helped me! In addition, it brought back fond memories of when my sister and I would stay up late to watch Nick At Night back in the day.

Thanks to Fran Drescher and the wonderful direction of our director, Michael Ursua, Estelle came alive! To my surprise, I really embodied her and got to have a lot of fun. On top of that, my character was blessed with amazing outfits from the 80’s (real vintage) to wear for the show, plus add the BIG 80’s hair and there you had Estelle Genovese!

Considering my last two shows I was the lead, I really enjoyed being part of the ensemble. Sometimes as the lead you miss out on big ensemble moments and the chaos of being backstage. I really enjoyed myself and got to bond more with my cast mates, which were all amazingly talented people.

Unfortunately, The Full Monty has now closed. It’s always bittersweet when a show closes because by the time the third weekend of shows come along, you’re exhausted but in your heart you never want it to end. I don’t know what my next show will be, but I guess that’s the exciting life of being an actor. All I can do now is look back and remember the amazing experiences and memories another show has brought to my life!

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