The Full Monty

Music & Lyrics by David Yazbekmonty logo

Book by Terrence McNally

Directed by John Glover

Music Direction by Koey Danielson

Choreographed by Daniel Spagnuolo

Hilarious & Sexy, The Full Monty is a crowd pleaser.

Mounting Yazbek & McNally’s The Full Monty is a brave choice for a non-Equiity troupe like Kokandy Productions since the show contains much raw sexually explicit language and adult themes. This is also one hilarious Broadway musical despite its crudeness. The opening night audience gave the show a rousing and enthusiastic standing ovation. Director John Glover used his enthusiastic cast to mount an engaging and energetic show long on laughs.  This is the third time I have seen The Full Monty and I must admit that I  have mixed feelings about the show.  I realize that I may be a minority about this quite popular adult musical, but I simply can’t get past the thin premise and the amazingly forgettable bland songs that slow down the humor.

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The Full Monty is an American version of the hit British 1997 film. It was made into a Broadway musical with book by Terrence McNally with a pop Broadway jazz-infused score and lyrics by David Yazbek (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels).  In this musical, we meet six out of work and out of shape steel workers desperate to make money. Jerry (Garret Lutz) and his buddy Dave (Scott Danielson) hatch a scheme to put on a male strip show to make a quick $50,000 after seeing how the gals love the Chippendale type male strippers. Teaming with their old boss, Harold (Eric Lindahl), the boys hold auditions to find three more average Joe’s to round out their dance troupe. They find an older African-American named ‘Horse’ (Randolph Johnson)—a reference a part of his anatomy. They also find a nerdy mama’s boy, Malcolm (George Toles ) and a manic, self destructive follow, Ethan (Greg Foster) to complete their dance troupe.

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With the help of an old-time vaudevillian audition piano player, Jeanette (Caron Buinis), the boys struggle to learn to dance while each member has personal problems that become accentuated throughout. Some of the troubles with McNally’s book occur when Dave, the over weight guy, doesn’t seem interested in having sex with his beautiful wife Georgie (Marsha Harman)—why? It is never explained. Next, after Jerry works hard to organize the troupe, he decides, at the last minute, to not dance. Why? Maybe to have a contrived dramatic moment just before the crew goes ‘full monty’? Also, there is a funeral scene after Malcolm’s mother passes that seems only to show Malcolm and Ethan holding hands and demonstrate Toles' golden voice. Caron Buinis was terrific as Jeanette. The six ‘dancers’ were a fine talents with Scott Danielson, Randolph Johnson, and George Toles  as particularly effective performers. Marsha Harman as Georgia and Colette Todd as Vicki led the female cast members.

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The songs are bouncy, but the entire show plays too long, and the plot is razor-thin. This show could be just as funny as a straight comedy as the songs seem to get in the way. Yet the eight piece orchestra sounds peppy, especially when performing the jazz-infused numbers. The choreography and movement by Daniel Spagnuolo enhances the comedy adding some depth to the story. I easily cared enough about these guys because the six exuded loads of heart. Rightfully , most of the opening night audience found the guys to be empathetic enough to cheer their plight. That is the critical consideration that makes this musical entertaining. The sheer energy and sincerity of the 20 person cast made for a fun night of musical theatre.

Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: March 12, 2015

For more info checkout The Full Monty page at theatreinchicago.com

At Theater Wit, 1229 W. belmont, Chicago, IL, call772-975-8150, www.kokandyproductions.com, tickets $38, Wednesdays, Thursdays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 3 & 8 pm, Sundays at 3pm, running time is 2 hours, 30 minutes with interrmission, through April 10, 2015

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