May 01, 2013 - Joshua Monterosso was playing the lead role in the musical "Little Shop of Horrors" several years ago when he felt the seam rip in the back of his trousers.
Center, Joshua Monterosso, playing “Jerry Lukowski” in The Full Monty.
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The Groveland Township resident now recalls how thankful he was that he able to do the rest of his scene without having to turn his backside to the audience.
Later this month, however, Monterosso will show considerably more to the audience at Avon Players Community Theatre in Rochester when he dons a G-string to play the lead role of Jerry Lukowski in "The Full Monty."
"We had to rehearse a lot, and now it's second nature," said Monterosso, a stay-at-home dad. "I'm not thinking about being out there in a G-string, I'm thinking about the lyrics and the choreography. The audience is going to be in shock."
Shocking or not, he believes they will enjoy the adult musical. "The Full Monty" is adapted from the movie of the same name which was nominated for several Academy Awards in 1998, including Best Picture, and won for best music, original musical or comedy score.
The musical is set in Buffalo, NY (the movie was set in England) and features a group of men who are unemployed after the steel mill they worked in shuts down. The characters devise a plan to become a male striptease act, similar to Chippendale's dancers.
"It's a bunch of laid-off workers down on their luck and they hatch an insane plan to make some cash," explained Monterosso. "Some really funny comedy ensues. Some of the more serious musicals have more demanding dance numbers, but this one is more about making the audience laugh. There are about 14 songs total, I do eight either by myself, or singing with the other male lead or the rest of the men."
Monterosso, 29, began doing musicals at about the age of 7, debuting in a walk-on role in "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever." His parents were very involved in the Avon Players Community Theatre, with his father starring in many musicals, his mother often directing, and his three brothers also getting in on the act in the family hobby.
Besides Avon Players, Monterosso, a 2002 Utica High School graduate, was also involved in junior high and high school musicals. Over the years, he estimates he has done 20 shows, although none in the past six years after he married wife Sandy and was busy being a father.
"I knew I was going to be rusty, but now that I'm back, things are running really smooth, it's coming along great and feels great to be back," he said.
Monterosso decided to audition for "The Full Monty" at the recommendation of friends, but usually chooses a musical by reading the scripts and looking at musical scores to see if it's a good fit for his baritone voice.
"If you really enjoy the story and character and you can sing well, you go for the role," he said. "You have to find something you are suited to well. Also, with community theaters, you have connections and when various shows come up, (casting directors) may have someone in mind already. Social networking is involved."
Even after many years of performing, Monterosso still feels nervous and notes that his mother always told him the day he stopped getting nervous is the day he should get off the stage.
"When you're nervous, it means you care about the show and the audience and giving them what they want," he said. "It's the same kind of nervousness you feel before getting on a big roller coaster ride. Once you're on the stage, it's like the roller coaster bar over your lap. You can't get off until it's over. The opening music starts and you walk on stage and then you just go. It's kind of fun."
Monterosso admits he has forgotten his lines at times, but like other performers, has learned to improvise until he remembers key lines and gets the show back to where it needs to be. Those non-scripted moments can be some of the most fun times in a musical, Monterusso said, but rehearsal helps to avoid floundering for lines.
At Avon Players, performers start rehearsing about eight weeks before they take the stage, meeting two or three nights a week at first, then more frequently as opening night nears. Monterusso also practices lines with his wife.
He is excited to get back on stage in "The Full Monty," which has performance dates of May 17-19, 24-26, and May 31-June 1, with Friday and Saturday evening shows at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. at Avon Players, 1185 Washington Road, Rochester.
"Community theatre is for people who have a strong interest and want to come out and have a good time," he said. "I missed it, and found myself listening to music on radio and remembering the feeling you get on stage when doing a number. It's a rush getting on stage and performing and all the time you spend practicing to do it."
Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville