San Diego Musical Theatre is going THE FULL MONTY at the Horton Grand Theatre through February 25th. Keeping the charm of the original productions, this show keeps the heart and the charm intact for these down on their luck central characters.
The musical (the first premiered at The Old Globe 18 years ago) is based on the British film of the same name. In a town where the factory has closed, the men are despondent about being out of work and feeling useless while their wives are working and bringing in the money. So six laid off steel workers decide to make some money by cashing in on going nude. An idea they get by the popularity of the visiting Chippendale and think sounds too good to pass up.
Jerry (Steven Freitas) is an out of work trouble maker, who is in debt to his ex-wife and needs the money to be able to continue to see his son. He turns to his best friend Dave (Danny Stiles) who is also looking for money but has some reservations on becoming a stripper. They hold auditions and end up finding Malcolm (Jonathan Sangster) a closeted ex-steel worker who still lives with his mother, “Horse” (Ron Christopher Jones) an older gentleman looking to feel youthful again, Harold (Richard Van Slyke) who hasn’t yet told his wife that he’s been out of work for the last 6 months, and Ethan (Jack Eld) a young man who has a burning desire to be the next Donald O’Connor but without the talent.
Add into this that Dave and his wife Georgie (Joy Yandell) are a married couple who love each other but can’t seem to talk to one another about how to get their relationship back on track and you’ve got the show. In true British fashion, they manage to make what sounds a bit gloomy into some pretty funny stuff.
Freitas is believable as the scrappy, but prideful Jerry, who is willing to take off his pants to make a buck but not accept a job from his ex-wife. At times it seemed like the songs where a bit too high for his range, but his overall charm, and easy chemistry with the other guys make him easy to root for as the leader of this crazy crew.
Danny Styles brings the core emotional impact to the show as the vulnerable and insecure Dave, who frets about his wife, his job, and his weight. Yandell (who was great SDMT’s BILLY ELLIOTT) is a match for him as the loving but discontented wife. Their duet “You Rule My World” is a sweet note in the show.
Sangster as Malcolm has some wonderfully comic and heartfelt turns, and Eld as Ethan brings a guileless comic touch with his character. Slyke as Harold is very funny, particularly when trying to keep his affectionate wife Vicky (Karyn Overstreet) from learning the truth.
Choreography by Paul David Bryant, costumes by Janet Pitcher, and the lighting by Michelle Miles (key to the last scene) all work together well. All of this is topped off with a catchy score by David Yazbeck, under the fabulous musical direction of Don LeMaster and his orchestra.
To be perfectly honest, in this more socially aware time, there are references in this show that can grate the wrong way – particularly about wives responsibilities versus men’s, and some of the jabs the guys throw around at each other. But for the era it’s portraying (the 90’s) it is the sounds of the time.
I did sit next to two pre-teens at the show I attended, and while lighting does cover a lot at the end, there is a lot of skin showing throughout the show, as well as adult language. All of this is entertaining and appropriate in the context of the show, based on the shocked faces of the kids next to me know if your kid can handle this before you bring them.
THE FULL MONTY is playing at the Horton Grand Theatre through February 25th. For tickets and show times go to www.sdmt.org