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By David M. Straight
Special to The PREVIEW
What do you do when you’re out of work, you live with your mother, you’re overweight and you have bills to pay?
For Jerry and the gang, the answer is obvious. You become a stripper.
“The Full Monty,” running through Aug. 11, is the story of six out-of-work guys shedding their insecurities (and clothes) to earn some much-needed money and self confidence.
Simon Beaufoy wrote this musical adaptation of the 1997 British motion picture comedy, “The Full Monty,” with music and lyrics by David Yazbek and book by Terrence McNally. The stage production of “Monty” is a snapshot of the lives of six men and their significant others in late 1980s Buffalo, N.Y. These men are dealing with issues that have just as much weight today as they did nearly 30 years ago — unemployment, divorce, obesity and depression. But it is the way these six ordinary men choose to deal with these issues that make Monty funny and even inspiring. It’s not just “the goods” that get laid bare in this hysterical comedy, but what these men are made of.
“I love performing in Pagosa because of how great the atmosphere is here,” commented Dustin Hebert, longtime supporter of the Pagosa Center of the Arts. Dustin plays Jerry Lukowski, an unemployed steel mill foreman with a penchant for harebrained schemes and overreactions. He and his best friend, Dave Bukatinski, an overweight and also unemployed “housewife” serve as the focus throughout the show with their relationship strained under the pressure.
The show starts off in a male strip club teeming with women cat-calling male strippers as, elsewhere, Jerry and Dave are fighting with their union foreman over being laid off and thrown out as “scrap.” As they discuss their prospects, they come across the male strip club filled with women willing to pay $50 apiece to get in, leaving Jerry and Dave wondering what the strippers have that they don’t.
The plan is hatched and Jerry declares that they can beat the Chippendales dancers at their own game by having something they don’t. What exactly do they have over the Chippendale dancers? They’re “real men that the ladies can see walking anywhere around Buffalo.” The plan is set into motion and they get to work recruiting other members for their one-night-only strip number with the promise of making $50,000. While trying to get into shape, Jerry and Dave encounter Malcolm, the mill’s night security guard, trying to commit suicide with a plastic bag over his head. The two break into a number in which they lovingly describe how they could help him commit suicide, because that’s what friends are for. Until they realize that Malcolm could be a welcome addition to their cause.
Barret Harper plays Ethan, the clumsy fellow steel mill worker who, despite not being able to dance or sing, has a certain gift that could prove most helpful to their cause. Noah, or “Horse,” as he tells the crew he is called (Jeremy Williams), is the elderly addition who proves to the crew (and the audience) that he is the member with the moves in his number, “Big Black Man.” The recently laid-off former efficiency analyst Harold (Kurt Brighton) proves to be invaluable to the crew by being the only one with knowledge of any kind of organized dance, despite being partially responsible for most of the layoffs. Finally, Deborah Curtis rounds things out as Jeanette, the hilarious retired showbiz veteran who unapologetically informs the crew on what they’re lacking while whipping them into shape and regaling them with stories of her former years.
The show’s actresses do a fantastic job in numbers such as “Woman’s World,” where Dave’s wife, Georgie (Jamie Finkenthal), extols the virtues of being in charge, and the emotional “Rule My World,” which serves to flesh out the relationships of Harold and Dave and their wives.
If you’re like me, you’ll find yourself rooting for them to do whatever it takes to get their self confidence and relationships back in order, even if it’s stripping in front of hundreds of friends and strangers.
Struggling to find rhythm and the courage to go “The Full Monty,” the crew work through their various problems at home and with each other. Energetic numbers such as “Michael Jordan’s Ball” and “The Goods” keep the crowd going while the crew overcomes relationship, financial and emotional hurdles to get them to the big show.
From start to revealing finish, “Monty” provides nonstop laughs while comically dealing with topics such as homosexuality, suicide and the roles of masculinity in today’s society. Hilarious songs, witty banter and energetic dance numbers will keep you cheering throughout the whole performance.
Do they go “The Full Monty?”
With only 11 shows remaining in the run, this is definitely a show you want to catch before it’s gone, so you can find out.
Thingamajig Theatre Company presents “The Full Monty,” rated R for adult content. Performances run Wednesday-Sunday in rep with “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” through Aug. 11.
For tickets, show times and information, visit www.pagosacenter.org or call 731-SHOW.