It seems to be the trend to put big musicals in small spaces. Surprisingly they often transfer well and in fact some are improved. Such is the case with The Full Monty by Terrence McNally and David Yazbek, now playing through November 11 at the Third Street Theatre. This very good production is directed by Richard Israel and features a five-piece band.
This Tony Award-nominated musical is an Americanized version of a 1997 British film of the same name. The story is about six out-of-work steel mill workers with no money and fewer prospects. After witnessing their wives pay good money to see a Chippendale dancer, one of the guys, Jerry, alights on the idea of putting on a strip show with his friends for cash. The trick is that they will go “the full monty” which means totally bare.
We follow the guys through their frustration, shame, shyness, and reticence as they head towards their goal. They recruit a few other guys and the strip is on. Along the way they have to learn to dance, scenes that are pretty funny. One brave guy, Ethan, is determined to do a Fred Astaire and dance up the walls. Every time he attempts to climb the walls he fails and we laugh.
The cast is quite strong, led by Will Collyer as Jerry, and Ryan O’Connor as his friend Dave. Morgan Reynolds plays Malcom who manages to come out in the midst of all this. Justin Michael Wilcox is Ethan, the wall climber. Chip Phillips is Harold, the dance instructor. Harrison White steals the show as Horse, while Todd Stroik does a credible job as the Chippendale dancer. Owen Teague plays Jerry’s son Nathan. Others in the cast include Paul Walling, Erin Bennett, Suzan Solomon, Nikki Jenkins, Sydney Blair, Shannon Warne, Brian Durkin, Jan Sheldrick and Wendy Rosoff.
The music is not particularly memorable but does feature some clever lyrics and a live band. Here the women fare better than the men, especially with the song "It's a Woman's World" which is sassy and exuberant. The men do quite well in the Act One production number where they compare their lives to "scrap" and bang their metallic chairs in precise unison. One regret is that the talented Shannon Warne who is a local musical comedy star has no song.
The Full Monty plays at the Third Street Theatre until November 11.