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Arts & Culture

Bob Goepfert Reviews "The Full Monty" At Capital Rep

Douglas C. Liebig
Cast members of The Full Monty at Capital Repertory Theatre

ALBANY - If you are looking for a feel-good summer entertainment look no further than “The Full Monty” playing at Capital Repertory Theatre in Albany.  

The musical, which continues through August 11, hits all the right buttons.  It has terrific music, vibrant dance and a comfortable story about unemployed men regaining their self-respect and rescuing their relationships in the process.  

Oh yeah, there is a touch of the risqué in the way the guys find that self-respect.   

Their plan is to do a strip act in which they do the Full Monty and bare it all.  

The theme opens the door to many, many double-entrendres and jokes that end with a wink or a knowing nod.   But not to worry, the jokes and innuendos might not be for kids, but they are never in bad taste. 

As for visual titillation, though the promise of a Full Monty is kept, it is really quick, dark and fleeting. Indeed, the opening number that has a handsome male stripper in a bikini doing a Chippendale routine is much more suggestive and provocative.   And, again, it’s not in bad taste.  This is a P.G. show throughout.

It’s also an entertaining show.  Cap Rep’s producing-artistic director Maggie Mancinelli-Cahill, who is also the production’s director, has assembled a cast that is talented individually, but more importantly work together as a tight ensemble.   Everyone in the cast is ideal for their role, but there is a sense of friendship and support throughout that is critical to the success of the show.

“The Full Monty” is based on the 1997 English film about a group of steelworkers who  lost their jobs when the mill closed.  Book writer Terrance McNally moved the musical to Buffalo, but keeps intact the way unemployment changes each person individually.   The men feel diminished and their loss of self-esteem affects their relationships with wives and family.  

Without being heavy-handed or depressing the musical attempts to show the emotional devastation of a small tight-knit society enduring economic hardship.   But mostly, it focuses on the resiliency of the individual.  

It also emphasizes that no one gets through it alone.   The relationships in “The Full Monty” are what give the play its heart.    The frailties of the men are what give the musical its comedy.  The music and dancing is what gives the night its fun.

The amount of exposition is troublesome and the production runs a good 15-minutes too long.   The story is so slight that without the deceptively good score by David Yazbek (who went on to create “The Band’s Visit” and “Tootsie”), the show could seem mundane.  

Indeed, because the work is set in the 1990’s many attitudes do seem dated.  

But the musical numbers are timeless.  There are a couple of great male-bonding numbers, like the comic “Big Ass Rock, ”and the sensational first act finale “Michael Jordan’s Ball.”  Meanwhile, “It’s a Woman’s World” is an ode to sisterhood.

However, it is the love ballads that permit stereotypes to be seen as genuine people.  “You Walk With Me” is just beautiful and “You Rule My World” finds tenderness in a father-son relationship and later as a confirmation of love between two married couples.

Not so coincidently, they both come immediately before the rousing, show-ending “Let It Go,”in which the guys prance, strip and send everyone home happily entertained.

“The Full Monty” runs at Capital Repertory Theatre in Albany through August 11.  For tickets and schedule information call 518- 445-7469, or go to capitalrep.org

Bob Goepfert is theater reviewer for the Troy Record.

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.

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