Though the Broadway musical, "The Full Monty," focuses on the trials and tribulations of unemployed steelworkers in Buffalo, NY, in the early 90s, the theme is sadly relevant to conditions mirroring many towns today.
In the show, a sizzling hot production at Village Theatre, six out-of-work, down-on-their-luck men grapple with loss of self-confidence, diminished manhood, relationship and marital issues and questionable futures. In desperate need of cash, they hatch a scheme to put on their own male strip show after seeing the enthusiasm the local gals have for a touring company of Chippendales.
With only "real men" bodies, however, they realize they will have to offer something "different," like going "The Full Monty," in order to attract an audience for their one-night only production.
As this collection of misfits proceeds to work through their fears, self-consciousness and anxieties, they begin to find strength as a group and overcome their inner demons.
Under director Jerry Dixon’s capable helm, an energetic and capable cast brings this feel-good comedy of triumphant hopefulness to life, while retaining its cheerfully risqué absurdity.
Dane Stokinger plays Jerry, the frustrated instigator of the strip show scheme. He’s a big-hearted father, who loves his teen son Nathan (Jack Holmes), but he has a chip on his shoulder and is way behind in child support payments to his exasperated ex-wife, Pam (Ashley FitzSimmons). Stokinger gives an enormously likeable performance that’s never affected. Vocally, he is very strong, and his rendition of the ballad "Breeze off the River" is one of the highlights of the show’s score.
As Jerry’s portly best friend Dave, Kevin High, does an equally commendable job. He and Stokinger have a great chemistry as affable losers. High, who delivers many of the show’s best lines, has great comic timing, but he is also able to display genuine longing and even tenderness.
And Terence Kelley, as the gray-haired, cane-toting Horse, shines. His riotous, un-p.c. introductory number, "Big Black Man" brings down the house.
The others, including Bob De Dea as uptight Harold, Michael Nicholas as dweeby Malcolm and Troy Wageman as klutzy Ethan, all work well together, helping to create the group’s wonderful camaraderie and giving it an endearing authenticity.
Highlights in David Yazbek’s hip score (performed with horn-blasting, high octane-energy by Tim Symons and his orchestra) include the opening ensemble lament, "Scrap," "Jeanette’s Showbiz Number" and "Michael Jordan’s Ball."
The latter is a nifty little piece that helps the guys suddenly start to understand rhythm, movement and teamwork by tapping into MJ’s psyche.
"The Full Monty" is that rare kind of show which features concepts that hit close to home for people from all walks of life.
Most of all, it’s terrifically entertaining.
"The Full Monty" runs through October 24 at the Village Theatre in Issaquah. It then moves to the Everett Performing Arts Center October 29 – November 21. For ticket information: www.villagetheatre.org.
Be aware that the show contains limited male nudity and plenty of R-rated humor.