The story is simple: Jerry Lukowski (James Moye) is in a fix. He and his buddies have been laid off from the factory for some time, and Jerry will lose custody of his son Nathan (Eric Williams) if he doesn't come up with overdue child support in a hurry. After seeing the effect visiting male strippers have on the local female population, Jerry concocts a plan for "regular" guys to strip off to g-strings for a one-night only box office bonanza. Eventually, the stakes rise and he promises the boys will go "the full monty," sans g-strings, in order to sell tickets. Each of his cohorts has his own little story, which we see evolve as things build to the big night.
Admittedly, the film presented the story much better. The basic premise is the same, but the film was set in the depressed steel town of Sheffield, England and there was a much grittier view of the mens' plight, though it was combined with humor. The moving of the setting to Buffalo, NY and the Americanization of the characters brings a more sitcomish feel to the proceedings, but Yazbek's score is a big plus, and, though we're never in doubt as to what will happen, it is satisfying to watch the characters develop character as they lose their fear of exposing themselves.
Moye is efficient as the wise-guy boy next door. Jerry's fathering skills are dubious, but he sincerely loves his son, and Moye hits a vocal highpoint with the sweet, lullaby-ish "Breeze Off the River." As Jerry's best friend, Dave Bukatinsky, Todd A. Horman is authentic and endearing as he battles self-esteem issues related to his excess weight. Moye and Horman have fun with the irreverent song, "Big Ass Rock." Malcolm MacGregor (Allen E. Read) is boyish, timid and lives at home with an house-bound, demanding mother. Read does a great job with a tender character; he invests great emotion without going overboard with the beautiful anthem "You Walk With Me." Jeremy Webb is terrific as Ethan Girard (though he never masters the final dance trick his character is obsessed with), who enthusiasticly volunteers for the strip show and eventually helps Malcolm move on with his life. TV soap star Robert Newman is a bit of odd casting as Harold Nichols, usually a slightly built man who is afraid of disappointing his wife whom he spoils richly. Newman is robust, with leading man looks, though he does a nice job of cowering and is fun to watch. As Noah "Horse" T. Simmons, who fears he is not as big a "Big Black Man" as he thinks he should be, is very nicely played by Milton Craig Nealy.
Director/choreographer Barry Ivan keeps things going at a very nice pace, though some scenes seem to end abruptly. The dancing does not look tremendously challenging, but every number is clever and appropriate - well done for a one-week show with a brief rehearsal period. It's to Ivan's credit, as well as the actors', that the cast truly inhabits the characters, and the audience is sold on the idea that they're seeing regular guys fearfully going "all the way" for cash and for dignity.
Mention must be made of Tom Helm and the CLO orchestra, who once again provide excellent musical support on this vibrant score.