COEUR d’ALENE — From the moment they gallivanted onto the Coeur d'Alene Eagles stage, umbrellas twirling, the contestants of the first Big Man of Coeur d'Alene had their audience wrapped around their brawny fingers.
"Oh my GOD!" "WOO!" "Owwww!" "He's hilarious!" and other exclamations could be heard bubbling from an effervescent crowd that at times laughed to tears as some of North Idaho's most prominent dudes thrust all of their energy into a Saturday night to remember to benefit the Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre.
"This will push the borders of what I've done in public," said a spunky Dr. Ryan Bones. "It is absolutely fantastic to see a completely sold-out crowd, standing room only, packed Eagles ballroom for a first-year event. This is a solid lineup, and I can guarantee it will not disappoint.”
The gentlemen performed a cute opening number before they donned their swimwear and shook their coconuts for cash. The "womanless beauty pageant" took on an all-male revue feel as audience members rushed the stage at times to shove dollar bills at Shane Greenfield and his inflatable unicorn pool float, or Duncan Clark Menzies as he lost his clothing along the runway.
James Perkinson busted out his sweet dance moves for an epic "Napoleon Dynamite" performance, Dave Fleischman showed everyone how to make an Old Fashioned while rocking a party dress and wedges, Mike Patrick made 'em howl with laughter as an old baseball coot with toilet paper hanging out the back of his skirt, Andreas John shook his tush in a wetsuit and flippers, and Marvin Sears stole hearts as he sang "Walking in Memphis."
And then there was Larry Bieber, who joked that he didn't even want to be there, but he ended up winning the contest, anyway.
"I really don't know how my wife gets me into these things," said Bieber, who was crowned as the evening's Top Dog.
Greenfield earned the award of the people's choice and Duncan Menzies sauntered away with the judge's choice award.
Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre executive director Tracey Vaughan said she really wanted to put on an event that was different and showcased the talents and personalities of local people.
"I want our community to know who we are and feel invested in this community resource, and I think the best way to do that is to reach out to the community, our awesome guys who are here tonight, and let them spread that network out to others within their sphere," she said. "I see a lot of people here tonight who normally aren't necessarily theater-goers for Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre. This gives them an opportunity to come see what we're about."
Vaughan said it was unexpected that the first year would sell out and be as successful as it was.
"We're overjoyed," she said. "We're already thinking about how next year, we need a bigger venue."