Sometimes a man’s sexiest organ is his heart.
As artistic director Michael Unger pointed out in his pre-curtain speech, this was Skylight’s first full-audience, live-action show in 579 days. So the artists and the audience probably had a little situational tachycardia.
In “The Full Monty”, adapted from the 1997 film, unemployed Buffalo steelworkers, desperate to make money, decide to turn to stripping, a la Chippendales. But these are not guys. No, these are six guys with regular bodies and anxieties, voiced aloud in a catchy score composed by David Yazbek.
At the heart of the musical are the two closest relationships between point guard Jerry Lukowski (Dan DeLuca): with his son Nathan (Abram Nelson) and with his pal Dave (Nathan Marinan). Being behind on his child support payments, Jerry risks losing his bond with the boy. So, after seeing how seductive women are with the Chippendales, Jerry concocts a crazy ploy to earn money for a night of men’s dancing by regular Buffalo guys.
He and Dave recruit a motley team: Malcolm (Joey Chelius), a shy mom son; Harold (Zach Thomas Woods), an unofficial supervisor who was fired for six months but hiding it from his beloved wife; Noah aka “Horse” (Lee Palmer), a gruff black man with a secret; and Ethan (Jordan Arrasmith), a young goofball with his own secret.
Attendant Jeanette (Jan Neuberger), played like she’s both as old and as sassy as Betty White, tries to get these eccentrics in shape. Jerry raises the stake by promising that they will go “full” – as in, they will lose their thongs.
Director-choreographer James Gray made sure the cast of Skylight delivers on the great sets of the musical: Palmer’s comedy and James Brown’s moves in “Big Black Man”; Neuberger’s confession in “Jeanette’s Showbiz Number”; and, as Vicki, Janet Metz’s praise for her husband in “Life With Harold”.
DeLuca has a credible relationship with Nelson (a freshman from Whitefish Bay High School who does well on the show) and Marinan. I might be biased by my Y chromosome here, but, when done right, few things are both funnier and more touching than male vulnerability, and writer Terrence McNally does them right.
After so much build-up, the final dance scene is paying off, with half Buffalo watching these guys show off their birthmarks, bellies, pigeon breasts and more. When you’re not howling with laughter, don’t be surprised if you experience unexpected movements above the waist.
If you are going to
The Skylight Music Theater performs “Le Plein Monty” Sep 24 Oct 24 17 at the Broadway Theater Center, 158 N. Broadway. Skylight recommends that members of the public be 15 years of age and over; the show includes a brief nudity. Proof of vaccination or recent negative COVID-19 test required. Masks required. For tickets and information visit skylightmusictheatre.org or call (414) 291-7800.