December 2, 2002
'The Full Monty' struts its stuff big time
by Deborah Stone
Currently lighting up the stage at The 5th Avenue Theatre is the raucous and heartfelt show, "The Full Monty." Based on the hit film of the same name, "The Full Monty" tells the story of six down-and-out steel mill workers who come up with a desperate plan to improve their lives and financial situations by creating a "real guy" male strip act at a local club.
They take their idea one step further by deciding to take it all off and go "the full monty" for a one night only show, aimed at the women in their community.
The show closely follows the film, but the setting is changed, from Sheffield, England, to Buffalo, New York, (both dying industrial towns heavily populated with unemployed, working-class guys) and there is the introduction of one new character, piano accompanist Jeanette Burmeister (top-notch, blues performer Carol Woods), a crusty, show-biz veteran who has been there before and seen it all.
The action focuses on one of the men, Jerry (spirited, wiry Christian Anderson), and his plight to keep partial custody of his son, Nathan (Brett Murray). Jerry stands to lose his son if he doesn't come through with the child-support payments he owes to his ex-wife Pam (Whitney Allen). He gathers up his best friend Dave (Michael J. Todaro), a sweet, beer-bellied guy with low self-esteem, and four others Ñ shy and insecure Malcolm (Geoffrey Nauffts), an older ex-steelworker named Horse (sexy, soulful Cleavant Derricks), the anal, ex-plant manager Harold (Robert Westenberg) who lies about being laid-off to his big-spending, materialistic wife Vicki (vivacious and glowing Heidi Blickenstaff) and Ethan (Christopher Hanke), a wanna-be Gene Kelly whose goal is to be able to run up and down walls (an art he just can't seem to master!).
The men practice their bump and grind movements while struggling with a host of life problems which stem from the loss of their livelihoods and subsequently, their identities. They eventually triumph over their fears, insecurities and nerves to put on a show to remember.
In the show's inevitable climax, the men supposedly present the full monty, but the deft mixture of lights and blackouts reveal very little. The tease is plenty, leaving the rest to the audience's imagination.
With a witty and tuneful score by gifted Broadway newcomer David Yazbek and some hot dancing by the talented ensemble, "The Full Monty" really struts its stuff and makes for an evening of highly exuberant entertainment.
The show runs through Dec. 8. For ticket information, call (206) 292-ARTS.