Smile Politely

A lot more than just johnsons

Full MontyRed pleather g-strings, pelvic thrusts and naked dudes make this show a rollicking delight for audience members of both the male and female variety; but, the characters in The Full Monty make for a thoughtful exploration of men and their relationships with themselves, each other and with their significant others.

In this musical inspired by the 1997 move of the same name, The Full Monty is about six laid-off steel workers in Buffalo, N.Y., who decide to strip for fast cash like the Chippendales, who are driving the women of Buffalo – including some of their wives – buck-wild. And despite internal battles and overwhelming fear, they decide to go “the full monty” to one-up those Chippendale guys.

For huge Full Monty movie fans, you may take issue with some of musical’s changes, although the show’s book pulls lines verbatim from the film. There are no garden gnomes, and the dancing in the unemployment line scene gets lost in translation – I didn’t particularly care for the thrusting that occurred during a funeral dirge in its stead. But the development of The Full Monty‘s female characters – two wives and an ex-wife of the steelworkers, and a new character, piano-player Jeannette (played hilariously by UIUC med student Kjirsten Walt) – was a refreshing surprise.

The 19-person cast had great chemistry overall, but let’s face it, the glory belongs to six guys whose characters expose themselves, physically and emotionally. Audiences will crack up during songs like “Big-Ass Rock” and “Michael Jordan’s Ball” but get choked up during scenes like when Dave (played whole-heartedly by Matthew Fear) wraps himself with cellophane in an effort to shed some pounds. “You Walk with Me,” sung by characters Malcolm (Craig Krukewitt) and Ethan (Harry Rosenberg), was a exceedingly touching moment. Kruketwitt’s Malcolm might be my favorite Full Monty man; his take on this dumb yet endearing character is perfection.

As for the finale, the striptease is a hilarious good time as the The Fully Monty morphs from theater into a silly strip show – it’s raunchy, but in a fun, good way. In a small space like the Station, audiences can get pretty personal with the actors’ private parts, but once the boys have their big reveal, the lights go black.

This production of The Full Monty is worth you money and your time – it’s slighty over two-and-a-half hours. But one thing is certain: this show has got “the goods.”


The Full Monty: Book by Terrence McNally. Music and lyrics by David Yazbek. Directed by Mikel Matthews.

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