WATERLOO — Opening March 16, “The Full Monty” is risky business for the Waterloo Community Playhouse. It’s hardly ever that any actor is asked to strip down to their skivvies — or their altogether — on the Hope Martin Theatre stage, but plenty of actors were willing to step out in the popular musical.
“It’s edgy for us,” acknowledged Artistic Director Greg Holt. “It’s one of those shows that people are excited that we’re performing. It’s a lot of fun for audiences. In auditions, there were a few people who asked ‘how naked do I have to get?’ It was a busy casting night, and we’ve put together a great cast.”
This is an Americanized musical stage adaptation of the 1997 hit movie, “The Full Monty.” In this version, unemployed Buffalo steelworkers who have been downsized out of their jobs are feeling down and out and cash-strapped. After spying on their wives at a Chippendales show, they decide to put together a strip act at a local nightclub.
“These guys decide they’ll go one step better and go ‘full monty’ — strip all their clothes off. It’s kind of preposterous, the idea that people will pay to see their neighbors get naked, but there’s more to the story than that,” Holt said.
Through the process of putting together their strip number, they must deal with their personal fears and self-consciousness while strengthening male bonds.
“We’re trying to be very careful with marketing. This show isn’t for everybody, and if you’re easily offended, ‘The Full Monty’ may send you over the edge. It’s very frank and talks a lot about body image and how men objectify women and vice versa. There will be the full monty, but the amount you actually see is in the hands of the lighting designer,” said Norman Ussary, WCP executive director.
Holt described the music as “another character in the show. It’s as important as anything, along with the dancing.”
Bryan Houts is the music director, while Jordan Makinster, who is performing the lead role of Jerry Lukowski, is also the choreographer for the show.
Although men are at center stage, the female characters are just as strong with several knock-’em-dead musical numbers. With book by Terrence McNally and score by David Yazbek, the musical premiered in San Diego in summer 2000 before opening on Broadway in October. The show closed in 2002 after 770 performances. Since then, the musical has been produced around the world, including Denmark, Australia, South Korea, Japan and South Africa.
Holt said there are so many set changes in the show that he hasn’t counted them all. “It’s all bang-bang-bang — fast moving with rolling, rotating pieces that take us from scene to scene. Lighting is crucial to the show, too, and we have Sam Mensinger doing the lighting, and Tony John on sound.”
Ussary cautions that in addition to nudity, the show contains strong language.