When The Full Monty hit the silver screen in 1997, audiences laughed their asses off around the globe – and the critics did too, with the Academy Awards giving it four noms (including Best Picture). It even won the Oscar for best original music score, against that year’s show stealer, Titanic. In 2000, a musical based on the movie graced the Great White Way, and now that show is here on our own Broadway Avenue. So get ready to see some birthday suits: The Full Monty, the musical, is opening Thursday, June 11 at the Station Theatre.
According to Mikel Matthews, who is making his directorial debut at the Station with Monty, Station’s artistic director Rick Orr has been wanting to do the skin-showing musical for some time. But tuckered out from directing Whitey, Orr wanted to give the directing job to someone else. So in steps Matthews, who is a drama and English teacher at Rantoul Township High School.
“I’ve done a lot of theater in this area, though I’ve been out of this area for several years,” Matthews said. “I’m just sort of getting replugged into the local theater scene.” Matthews added that he has performed as an actor in some Station shows.
In a Smile Politely exclusive, Matthews answers the questions we all want to know about this au naturel production:
Smile Politely: How is The Full Monty, the musical, compare with The Full Monty, the movie?
Mikel Matthews: Well they moved the musical to Buffalo, New York, but beyond that a lot of the story is the same. The music in it is all original, so at the end it’s not Tom Jones’ “You Can Leave Your Hat On,” it’s an original song called “Let it Go.” Beyond that, they’ve done a very good job of following the film to the point that at times it’s a little aggravating as a director.
SP: Any first-time Station Theatre performers in this production?
MM: We’ve got a number of veterans but we’ve also got some people who’ve done more stuff with Champaign-Urbana Theatre Company, like the music director. We’ve got Matt Fear who plays Dave, he’s a old ham there and David Butler who plays Jerry – he’s done some shows at Station but I think he’s played more shows as a musician than performed in them. We’ve got one guy Jeff McGill who used to do shows but its been like 20 years since he’s done a show there. A lot of people were really excited that he came out for this.
SP: How much nudity should audiences anticipate to see in this production?
MM: Well, it’s called The Full Monty for a reason. At the end of the show, they are naked on stage and the lights will pop up behind them because if you see it, it stops being theater in a certain respect and becomes both a documentary and “Oh, I can see a penis!” which could take people out, plus scares the hell out of the actors. The audience should be aware that they’ll be nude but they shouldn’t be flapping in the breeze in all their glory.
The Full Monty opens Thursday, June 11 and runs through July 11 (no show on July 4). Tickets are $8 on Wednesdays, $10 on Thursdays and Sundays, and $15 on Fridays and Saturdays. To reserve tickets, call Station Theatre‘s box office at 384-4000.