By Roz Friedman

Rude, crude and a little nude, The Full Monty, is a sweet and sour sexy musical that examines the self-image of workers in the midst of life-changing layoffs.

It is kind of an odd choice for this Ct theatre, but it is being given a zesty production by the Ivoryton Playhouse.  In 2000, the musical, based on a 1997 British film of the same name, was nominated for many Tony awards and won none. Of course, it was up against Mel Brooks The Producers, the blockbuster of that season. 

The amusing Book was written by Terrence McNally, who really gets off some zingy one-liners, delivered by Jeanetter, the pianist/accompanist, played dryly by Judith Lenzi-Magovney. The serviceable Lyrics & Music are by David Yazbek, who began his career writing for David Letterman; he’s also responsible for the Music & Lyrics for Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Directed disjointedly—there are many pauses between scenes that leave the stage blank-- yet very well-choreographed by Larry Nye, with Musical Direction by John Sebastian De Nicola, who plays the piano in the six-piece orchestra, The Full Monty is set in Buffalo, New York. That happens to be the city where A.R. “Pete” Gurney places all of his plays; but this is certainly a different milieu.  No WASPS here!

We meet a group of guys in the Union Hall. Barrett Hall takes center stage as the divorced Jerry Lukowski, who is in danger of losing his son, Nathan (Carlin Morris), if he can’t come up with child support payments. His best friend, the rotund Dave, is acted by Robert W, Schultz, Jr., whose baby face and sonorous voice are an endearing combination; he’s having a tough time in his marriage to his wife, Georgie, played with punch by Mary Ann Picolo. As Malcolm, who lives with his ailing mother, John T. Lynes displays a cute personality and a lovely high tenor.  Mark F. Weekes is a standout as Noah; nicknamed “Horse,” he’s the only African/American in the cast and his character is playing against type.    

Witnessing a group of wives at a ladies night out paying good money to see Chippendale-type performers at a strip club, Jerry convinces his out-of-work buddies to make up a troupe with the name, Hot Metal. They learn to dance with the help of Harold, their former affluent supervisor. Peter Craig Morse, in real life, the co-director of the choir at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Bridgeport, displays a good sense of competence here, and when he joins with dynamic Jackie Sidle as his wife, Vicki, to sing “Life with Harold,” they are a dynamite pair.

Along the way, the men gain confidence and self-esteem. The question facing them is whether they can keep their promise to deliver the “Full Monty”and take it all off. To its credit, the finale is handled with finesse. The Full Monty, crude, rude, and a little nude, is full of heart.  It will play at Ivoryton through July 26 

This review originally aired on WMNR 88.1FM FINE ARTS RADIO


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