Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
The Full Monty
The Full Monty - three little words that became part of popular culture due to the 1997 film of the same name. The UK import about six unemployed steel workers who turn to exotic dancing to raise some quick cash became a sensation. It wasn't long before the movie sparked the creation of a popular Broadway musical.
However, this Monty is different from the now familiar movie. The musical is set in Buffalo, New York, rather than the UK. Also, the show features a completely original score. Even with those changes, the basic plotline remains the same. Jerry, the leader of this inexperienced group of male strippers, has invented a scheme to earn some money in order to pay his back child support payments. To ensure the group's success, the dancers promise to go "the full monty" or in other words, display total nudity.
Now the boys are taking their act on the road in the national tour of The Full Monty. Currently playing at National Theatre, Monty provides a bit of salacious entertainment with a comic touch.
Playwright Terrence McNally, whose credits include Master Class and Ragtime, has written an amusing book that stays true to the integrity of the film. David Yazbek's score is not quite as successful. Many of his pieces are quite innovative but the score as a whole is uneven.
Fortunately, the show is brought to life by a cast that manages to accentuate the positive. The musical numbers are performed with gusto and the comic moments are played equally well. Christian Anderson is appealing as Jerry Lukowski and handles his numbers very well. Michael J. Todaro is sweet as Jerry's best friend, Dave. Broadway veteran Robert Westenberg is appropriately uptight as the very business-like Harold. Cleavant Derricks shows off his dancing prowess as Horse, but the true star of this group is not one of the boys. Instead, it is Broadway actor Carol Woods. Her portrayal of Jeanette is a joy to watch. Her timing is impeccable and her earthy singing voice will leave you bouncing in your seat.
Robert Morgan's costume design is appropriate for the piece and John Arnone's scenic design is functional and works well for the industrial setting.
For the most part, The Full Monty is enjoyable. It doesn't try to be more than it is, which is a piece that lacks depth but is ultimately crowd-pleasing. The Full Monty runs through July 21st.
The National Theatre
Georgie Bukatinsky: Jennifer Naimo