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THEATER REVIEW

Lots of grins before they bare it

Musical Theatre West's staging of 'The Full Monty' captures the show's humor and soul.

February 27, 2007|Daryl H. Miller | Times Staff Writer

Wholesome. That's not an adjective you might expect to attach to a story about six guys who plan to flash some skin -- well, a whole lot of skin, actually -- for a paying public. Yet for all the naughtiness built into its concept, the stage musical version of "The Full Monty," like the 1997 movie before it, ends up affirming such values as devotion to family, commitment to friends and, in all things, providing unconditional love and support.

The show's improbable charms are winningly revisited in a big-scale staging by Musical Theatre West that puts David Yazbek's funny yet touching songs and Terrence McNally's laugh-out-loud dialogue into the mouths of some of the region's most accomplished musical theater performers.

The stage version, seen pre-Broadway at San Diego's Old Globe in 2000 and on national tour at the Ahmanson in 2002, retains the movie's story arc but relocates the action from Sheffield, England, to Buffalo, N.Y., where steelworkers, thrown out of work, are angry and bewildered.

Among this group is Jerry Lukowski (John Bisom), a divorced dad with Peter Pan syndrome, who sees dollar signs when he notices how much is charged at the door for a Chippendales-type strip show. Soon he has enlisted his best buddy, Dave Bukatinsky (John Massey Jr.), in a plan to doff their clothes, one night only. Through chance, then through "A Chorus Line"-style audition, the group expands (with Kevin McMahon, David Engel, Eugene Barry-Hill and James Leo Ryan rounding out the central roles) and gains a lively older pianist (Mary Jo Catlett).

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday March 02, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 41 words Type of Material: Correction
'The Full Monty': In some copies of Tuesday's Calendar section, the information box accompanying a review of the Musical Theatre West production of "The Full Monty" incorrectly stated the low end of the adult price range as $20. It is $25.

The working-class setting comes complete with a bit of rough language, and the show develops into one long striptease that cheekily exposes a few, um, "cheeks" as these would-be strippers -- not entirely a six-pack-abs crew, further hampered by questionable movement skills -- prepare for the big night. Yet as directed by Steven Glaudini and choreographed by Lee Martino, this presentation wonderfully counterbalances the playful mischief with human, heartwarming moments, several of which involve Jerry's 12-year-old son (Quintan Craig) and two particularly supportive wives (Tami Tappan Damiano and Tracy Lore).

At Saturday's opening, the pit band of 12, led by Allen Everman II, was occasionally out of sync with the singers, and sound balance remained a work in progress. Still, the rock 'n' roll score sounded pretty terrific, and tears sprung to many an eye, sometimes due to emotion and sometimes in reaction to sight gags.

*

daryl.miller@latimes.com

*

'The Full Monty'

Where: Carpenter Performing Arts Center, 6200 Atherton St., Long Beach

When: 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2 and 7 p.m. this Sunday; 2 p.m. only March 11

Ends: March 11

Price: $25 to $50

Contact: (562) 856-1999, Ext. 4

Running time: 2 hours, 50 minutes

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