Gala night gets the drop on ‘Monty’

Director Cat Austin, founder of the Experiential Theater Company, has had her share of triumphs on the Sonoma stage, including last year’s “Cabaret,” voted Best Live Production in The Sun Readers Poll. But with the upcoming musical “The Full Monty,” the bar has been raised.

“With this production, ETC! is taking a major step toward bringing regional theatre to downtown Sonoma,” she said. The show features a cast and crew with national credentials: a Broadway star; a performer from the “Bye Bye Birdie” national tour; an award-winning Actors Equity performer reprising his “Full Monty role;” a musical director fresh from the Broadway production of “Motown the Musical” and “Wicked,” and more.

“I’m so excited for the cast and crew we’ve assembled,” said Austin. “It’s the first time I’ve produced a show in which four of the actors have played their roles before and at such a high level.”

Premiering May 31 at the Sebastiani Theatre for a gala fundraising performance, “The Full Monty” joins the summer series of Sonoma Theatre Alliance shows, June 7-29 at the Andrews Hall.

The veteran actors have a breadth of knowledge that fits perfectly with what Autsin calls her “think tank” style of directing. “I require my actors to bring their ideas forward, so we have all of this amazing creative input, and my job as director is not to harness it but somehow channel it.” The result, she said, “is a show that is so much bigger than the sum of its parts.”

“Cat’s an actors director,” said Brooke Tansley, who play Georgie. Tansley starred as Belle on Broadway’s “Beauty and the Beast,” performed in the original cast of “Hairspray,” and has been seen in Transcendence Theatre Company’s Broadway Under the Stars.

“It’s what every actor hopes for,” Tansely said.” We’ve been having great rehearsals and I can tell you, it’s going to be magic.”

Based on the Oscar-winning film, the musical follows a group of unemployed steel workers who resort to a creative and revealing scheme to raise money.

Audience members come to the theatre in full anticipation of that famous final moment, but the play goes much deeper. Austin calls it deep a heartfelt ride about the many aspects of relationships, “and what drives us to do anything and everything we possibly can to keep love in our lives.”

The May 31 gala performance is a benefit for the Sebastiani Theatre Foundation, Inc., with all proceeds going to the foundation. “This is not about ETC!,” said Austin. “This is about supporting something else, supporting a theater space that is threatened, and if something isn’t done, it’s going to slip away.”

Tickets are $175 for VIP seats and $100 for floor seats. An opening night gala will be held and VIPs will enjoy a red carpet entrance, premium seats and a wine and cheese party on stage with the cast after the show, plus other surprises… including cameo “Monties” by local notables, including Mayor Tom Rouse, Mike Benziger and more.

For information and tickets to the gala, and the June 7-29 run at Andrews Hall, contact 938.4626 or Svbo.org.


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