Civic Light Opera of South Bay Cities is presenting an excellent production of The Full Monty. The story comes from the British movie by the same name, which was a big hit here and in Europe. It concerned a group of working-class men who had been laid off and decided to bare all to raise money. Unlike the Chippendale-like show that had just been in town, they promised to do “the full monty,” or total frontal nudity. The story is really about how they put the show together mostly with courage, and only a little talent. So it’s about naked men, their courage, their loving wives, and the tease of full frontal exposure. Naturally it has musical written all over it.
The Full Monty (the musical) opened on Broadway in 2000, ran for 770 performances, and was nominated for ten Tony Awards. The excellent book is by Terrence McNally, with tuneful music and clever lyrics by David Yazbek. The musical traces the path the guys must take, working through their fears, their hang-ups, their reticence to reveal themselves to other men and strangers. The long plot takes two and a half hours to unravel. This production works so well because of the excellent direction by Dan Mojica and the creative choreography of Karen Nowicki. The original had nowhere near the amount of dancing, and the additions really help fill out the story.
No production can be successful without a good cast, and this one has it in spades. Leading the men is John Bisom, who won an Ovation Award (LA’s Tony) for this role in another production. This time he has even stronger support. Danny Stiles is wonderful as the chunky but lovable Dave, who has the most to overcome to get himself to strip in public. It is mainly through his character that the audience feels what it might require to take such a journey. I loved Harrison White as Horse. He too is chunky, and he is older, but that man can move. He is light on his feet and has a great way with a comic line.