THE FULL MONTY is a crowd pleaser. They love it in Stoneham (where it’s playing through May 6th). The matinee I attended was crowded with women of a certain age…and even older… and they were in stitches. It’s naughty but not too naughty. Raucous but not too raucous and it covers all the bases: Lots of sex appeal, a little death but surprisingly no taxes. That’s because all the factory men in Buffalo have been laid off. No wages, no taxes. What’s to be done?
As you likely know from the British film of the same name, the men witness their wives flocking to girls’ nights at a local club to see the Chippendales. They decide to do them one better by trying their own Chip shot and taking it all off. The Terrence McNally/ David Yazbek tongue in cheek musical boasts some winning numbers like “Big Black Man” (with the hilarious David L. Jiles, Jr.), “Michael Jordan’s Ball” (with all the unemployed guys), “The Showbiz Number” (with the incomparable Margaret Ann Brady) and of course the grand finale “Let It Go” (when they do just that!).
The rest of the show is filler, with some lovely songs but the heart of the musical are the guys who bond for a cause. Their scenes in service of the dream keep you interested. A wonderfully funny, deadpan David Costa is the guy who inspires them to strip for their supper in the first place. Michael Timothy Howell and Corey Jackson are the ringleaders who sell the idea to Steve Gagliastro and the rest of the unemployed guys at the plant.
Nick Sulfaro as a suicidal goofball and Andrew Oberstein as the benighted wall crasher add a nifty sentimental note to the musical. Danielle Perry and Jackson, too, sweeten the story and Ilyse Robbins provides the drama, when Howell’s character has to come up with child support or else. (She also choreographed.) Jim Rice’s band is top notch. There’s something about the intimacy of the Stoneham Theatre that just makes musicals pop.