The Total Package
More than a strip show, but there’s that too
When ushers brought in extra chairs to accommodate the sold out premiere of The Full Monty, they made a new first row. That led most of the women in the new second row to switch seats so they could be in the front, begging the friendly jab, “You know what they came to see.” But most of the crowd probably knew what they would see — a few average guys in the buff — but got the extra treat of a terrific, fun show with a lot of good music and great laughs.
Based on the film by the same name, The Full Monty is about Jerry Lukowski, a screw-up father who has two weeks to pay back alimony or he loses shared custody of his kid. With the help of his good-meaning, overweight buddy Dave Bukatinsky, Jerry decides to put on a male strip show with an unlikely crew, drawing in the crowd by promising to give the audience a peak at the full monty.
Written by Broadway favorite Terrence McNally with music by David Yazbek, the Broadway production was a smash, garnering nine Tony nominations. The Poccolo production, presented by Columbia’s Workshop Theatre was voted “Best Local Theatre Production” last year by the readers of Columbia’s Free Times.
While the plot may revolve around men taking their clothes off, this is a musical for the guys, too. The ladies get to have a little fun with “It’s a Woman’s World,” but even then it’s evident that this is a show about men getting over their hang-ups — be it weight, responsibility, or the expectations of others — so they can go “all the way.”
The first act is all about finding the rest of the guys. “Big-Ass Rock” and “Big Black Man” are terrific numbers, along with “Michael Jordan’s Ball,” which closes out the first act with a ray of hope that these guys can pull it off. None of the numbers will likely show up on a Best of Broadway collection, but it’s the comedy, not the chorus, that will pull audiences in.
The show’s most memorable numbers come close the end, with the heart-tugging “You Walk With Me,” and the rowdy finale “Let It Go” that you’ll probably be humming the next day.
The stand-out performance is Hunter Boyle, who steals every scene as Jeannette Burmeister, an aging piano player who helps the guys get ready for the big night.
When the moment finally arrives and these guys “hit the stage,” the final number depends on the audience. Some of the older ladies in the crowd hooted and hollered with rowdy excitement. By this point, you’d seen enough of the guys to know these weren’t the type of bodies you’d pay for, but like the loving wife or the kid proud of his papa, you just want to see them succeed. They succeed at bringing Charleston a great show. As for a review of “the full monty,” ask one of the ladies from the first row, they got the best look.
The Full Monty • Piccolo Spolleto’s Theatre Series • $26, $24 seniors/students • June 3,4,5,6 at 7 p.m. • Charleston Ballet Theatre, 477 King St. • 554-6060