Struggles of men on display in ‘The Full Monty’
As stories go, the plot of “The Full Monty” is a bit implausible. It proposes that six unemployed steel workers from Buffalo, N.Y., form a male striptease troupe — a la Chippendales — to save their families, their pride, and their homes.
How can these six mostly out-of-shape men compete with an established group such as Chippendales? Easily, by going “the full monty,” which means to strip all the way, leaving nothing to the imagination while offering plenty for the eyes of the town women they hope will come see this one-time performance.
The newest musical at the Eldorado Resort Casino, which appears nightly except Mondays through Sept. 18, also deals with serious issues including financial hardships, unemployment, parental rights, impotence, depression, homosexuality, obesity and suicide.
It’s also a comedy that’s based on the 10-time Tony Award-nominated musical written by Terrence McNally and scored by David Yazbek that appeared for two years on Broadway, which in itself is an adaptation of the 1997 British film of the same name.
“It’s brilliantly written,” said director Andy Ferrara, whose Los Angeles-based company Plan-B Entertainment produces the show. “There are serious issues, but they’re addressed in a funny, entertaining way.”
For example, there’s a song about suicide that makes light of the character’s decision to end his life. But it’s sung with humor in a way that dissuades the character from leaving this world early.
The musical makes no bones about the fact that it does reveal male flesh on stage (although you’ll have to go to the show to learn if “the full monty” is exposed in its full glory) — within the first three minutes of the show, you’re seeing a guy on stage in a G-string.
But remember, these are not experienced striptease performers. These are everyday men trying to regain some self-pride and make some money to pay the ever-mounting bills that cause so much strife in their lives.
“I think that’s what makes this show so enjoyable for men and women alike,” Ferrara said. “People who see the show can identify with the men on stage, what they’re going through — their struggles, their willingness to do anything legal for money and wanting to achieve something. At the same time, they’re dealing with the awkwardness of revealing their less-than-perfect bodies. I think being able to relate to the characters is where the show really hits a home run.”
The show features a cast of 19 performers, plus a live band that’s placed in the upper balcony of the Eldorado Theatre.
“We held open auditions in Los Angeles and received roughly 350 head shots, pictures and resumes from folks that wanted to audition for us,” Ferrara said.
“We then auditioned around 200 people and narrowed it down until we got the cast that we wanted.”
For stage props, Ferrara rented a set that was used on a national tour.
“It came in two 53-foot semi-trucks,” Ferrara said. “It’s pretty elaborate and I think that shows. That and the live band, which really adds an extra layer to the quality of the show, really makes this a quality production that everyone who comes to see it will enjoy.”
As the show moves toward its conclusion and “the full monty,” the men — who initially kept their layoffs from the steel factory a secret from their wives — struggle to deal with their self-esteem issues that emanate from losing one’s job and all the troubles that accompany such a situation.
They take dance lessons in hopes of being capable performers for their one-time striptease performance. As the show progresses and their wives catch wind of the men’s plans, they discover that they have the support and love of their women regardless of whether they’re employed.
When they finally do perform, the men’s women are fully enthusiastic and break the show’s fourth wall by appearing in the actual audience of the Eldorado Theatre, hooting and hollering for their men.
It’s an effect that helps involve the Eldorado audience and makes everyone in the venue feel as if they’re at this unusual striptease show.
“I think what makes this story so good is that the show itself isn’t so much about stripping,” Ferrara said. “It’s the end product of the show, but it’s really about relationships and love and people doing what they need to do to take care of each other and to support each other.
“Sure, the subject matter has serious issues but it’s all presented in such a silly, lighthearted way that, in the end, people really enjoy it and are entertained by what they see.”