For most of its history what we now know as the American musical was termed Musical Comedy, and it aspired to nothing more than a gentle and amusing evening's worth of entertainment with laughs, pretty girls, and snappy songs. The evolution to the modern musical began several decades ago with Oklahoma!, but The Full Monty, which opened last night at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre, offers nothing so much as a loving glance back, a post-modern homage to those glory days of the late 20s through the early 50s when life's problems could all be solved with a bit of clever plotting and a catchy tune.
To claim that The Full Monty is an important or significant contribution to musical theatre would be absurd. To say that it's one of the most enjoyable, light weight evenings at the theatre in the last several seasons would be nothing less than the plain truth. Terrance McNally has provided a book and David Yazbek songs which, inconsequential as they are, nevertheless catch your fancy and provide a context for a first rate cast to strut their stuff with joyful abandon.
Of particular note are the performances of Patrick Wilson, John Ellison Conlee, and Jason Danieley, three actors with the ability to connect with the audience on an emotional level and touch your heart in unexpected ways. The main reason Monty works so well is that we come to love these three guys; after all we know people just like them in our own lives.
The elegant Andre De Shields and the irrepressible Kathleen Freeman are particularly adept at sending the audience off into gales of laughter and wild applause.
Jack O'Brien's direction and Jerry Mitchell's choreography are pretty much what they need to be, keeping things moving along at a quick pace. John Arnone's colorful set is appropriate to the tone of the show, as are Robert Morgan's costumes and Howell Binkley's lighting.
The Full Monty Book by Terrence McNally. Music and lyrics by David Yazbek. Directed by Jack O'Brien. Choreography by Jerry Mitchell. Cast: John Ellison Conlee, Nicholas Cutro, Jason Danieley, Lisa Datz, Andre De Shields, Thomas Michael Fiss, Kathleen Freeman, Romain Fruge, Annie Golden, Marcus Neville, Emily Skinner, Patrick Wilson. Scenic design by John Arnone. Costume design by Robert Morgan. Lighting design by Howell Binkley. Sound design by Tom Clark. Orchestrations by Harold Wheeler.
Theatre: Eugene O'Neill Theatre, 230 West 49th Street, between Broadway and 8th Avenue.
Running time: 2 hours and 45 minutes with one 15 minute intermission.
Schedule: Tuesday through Saturday at 8 PM, Wednesday and Saturday at 2 PM, Sunday at 3 PM.
Audience: May be inappropriate for children 13 and under due to mature subject matter and language. Children under 4 are not permitted in the theatre. The original film, THE FULL MONTY, was rated "R" for language and brief nudity. The Broadway production would receive the same rating as the film.
Ticket prices: $85 and $70 / Tuesday through Thursday $85, $70 and $30 / Wednesday matinee $80, $65 and $30. New Year's Eve, Sunday 12/31 @7 PM $100 and $85. A $1 Restoration Charge will be added to the price of each ticket. This charge is for the restoration and preservation of the theatre.
Standing Room: Available only at the Box Office, and only when the performance is completely sold out. Standing Room Price $25 / Saturday Evening $30 / Wednesday Matinee $20
Tickets online: TeleCharge
Tickets by phone: TeleCharge at (212) 239-6200, or outside the New York metro area (800) 545-2559, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Tickets in person: Box Office hours Monday through Saturday 10 AM to 8 PM, Sunday Noon to 6 PM.
Tickets by E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tickets by Snail mail: The Full Monty, PO Box 998, Times Square Station, New York, NY 10108-0998. Note: Mail orders must include the $1 Restoration Charge for each ticket.