The musical “The Full Monty,” based on the Academy Award nominated film of the same name, lights up Cabrillo Stage at Crocker Theater June 23 through July 17. The show brings to the stage what will most likely be one of the more sexy, comedic musicals of the summer.
“The Full Monty” tells the story of six unemployed steelworkers who are down on their luck trying to get a job in the impoverished town of Buffalo, New York. After they notice how excited their wives are for a Chippendale show down the street, the friends decide that they could get some money by putting on their own show, maybe even a better one at that.
As equity actor Kyle Payne, who plays Jerry Lukowski and whose real-life wife plays his character's divorced wife in the show, points out very seriously, “It’s pretty funny.” The show finds its comedic center through out-of-work men trying to reinforce their manhood. The characters in the musical not only try to find respect from each other but also from themselves. Even though this is the first time some of the actors have ever worked with each other, or even met each other, the actors’ bonding reflects that sort of bonding that happens onstage. Another equity actor Kevin High, who plays Dave Bukatinsky, admits, “Too much bromance!” High is right, you can tell by looking at the actors that they really care for each other and that ends up working to their benefit for the production.
All six of the main characters aren’t classically trained in dancing, much like the characters they play, but for them that’s what makes the show a whole lot better. Dan Housek, who plays Malcolm Macgregor, explains that because he can't dance professionally he can relate to the character much more. The end result is a sincere performance by the actors that make the musical that much more compelling and funny.
A lot of the comedy also derives from its music. Director Dustin Leonard explains that the musical numbers differ from most musicals because they provide development to the story: “the music isn't just [for] decoration,” Leonard says. The numbers jump from genre to genre, from rock ’n’ roll to funk to ballads. The songs also get the most laughs from the audience, like an upbeat number about depression and suicide in one scene.
As the plot progresses, the core of the story becomes apparent: it's about the lack of respect and insecurities that most men face. Leonard comments that the success of the musical comes from the fact that anyone can connect to the characters onstage. They gain empowerment through their camaraderie and through gaining respect from their families.
Since “The Full Monty” is not really just about men but also about families who are affected by unemployment, the story is familiar for many viewers. The show offers a lighthearted perspective on the issue by placing it in a comedic situation; men turning to an embarrassing opportunity so they can support and gain respect from their families. “The Full Monty” is sincere and enjoyable at doing just that.
The musical makes small changes to some parts of the film. For example, there is the addition of a new character named Jeanette, an old Vaudeville star played by Claire Hodges. Think tough-as-nails/seen-it-all musician. She accompanies the characters during their practice. The show also strengthens the love subplot between two male characters that the movie brushes over. The female roles are reinforced in the musical, exploring not only the effect of unemployment on the men, but on the family as well.
Expect a festive outing—the Broadway show garnering nine Tony noms, including Best Musical and the “feel-good” energy should be high.
"The Full Monty" opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 24 at the Crocker Theater, 6500 Soquel Drive, Aptos, 479-6154. Tickets are $28-$34. For more information visit cabrillostage.com.
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