The Full Monty
There will be six full moons over Runaway Stage for the next two weekends. With much aplomb, and little clothing, the six main stars of The Full Monty unveil a spirited, fun production of this 2000 Broadway show.
The musical was adapted from the popular 1997 English movie about a group of unemployed steelworkers who turn to amateur stripping to make money and restore their pride. Pride, or lack thereof, is the central theme of this production of The Full Monty, which transplants the story from England to Buffalo, N.Y., but keeps the same quirky qualities of the movie. The laid-off workers are everyday men with everyday problems and everyday bodies, which makes their decision to strip so endearing.
Though it’s evident from the beginning that there will be some disrobing, the question that propels the show, and amps the anticipation, is whether these men will put their family jewels on display, or, as the British slang title calls out, will they perform a full monty? Ah, we’d be nuts to unveil that spoiler. As the show-within-the-show says, you have to pay your money to find out. But, it’s safe to say, this show is not for the easily offended, with its salty language and spicy subject matter.
What is surprising is how uncampy and heartfelt this musical is, considering the low level it could have stooped to or the stereotypes it could have perpetuated. Instead, it wears a big heart on its sleeve, tackling intriguing social issues, such as men’s body image, lost pride, depression, homosexuality and child-custody battles.
Runaway Stage, which usually produces classic family-oriented musicals like The Sound of Music, Oklahoma! and Fiddler on the Roof, shows real cojones in staging this adult-targeted show. This is not a slick production—the score itself is weak, some voices and footwork aren’t the strongest, and the stage and props are as bare as the bottoms. Still, everyone associated with the show displays such enthusiasm and spirit, it wins the audience over.
The audience itself is part of the fun. There’s a real cross section of theatergoers, with a strong contingency of enthusiastic friends (of both genders) giggling, hooting and hollering in encouragement. The real applause goes out to the courageous and charming main cast members in their life-imitates-art moments. These six local actors found the courage to do what their characters must—expose themselves to the world.