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Civic Theatre breaks out ‘The Full Monty’

Thu., May 19, 2011

Yes, we know the question

on everybody’s mind. Here’s the only way to answer it:

• Yes, the “monty” is “full” in “The Full Monty.”

• No, you won’t actually see it.

The key moment of the Spokane Civic Theatre’s production of “The Full Monty” will be presented using precisely timed theatrical effects – the exact nature of which we won’t give away.

“We’ve handled it very carefully,” said director Troy Nickerson.

So there won’t be full-frontal nudity. Yet, true to the nature of this hit Broadway musical, there will be what you might call full-backal nudity.

“There’s definitely a lot of backsides,” Nickerson said.

As anyone who has seen this show can affirm, nudity may be the show’s titular theme, but “The Full Monty” delivers on a much more subtle level.

“The show is so sweet and nice, it’s not about getting naked,” said Nickerson.

It’s based on the hit 1997 British film comedy about laid-off steelworkers in Sheffield, England.

This 2000 musical adaptation moves the location to Buffalo, N.Y., but the story remains the same: A bunch of forlorn unemployed guys notice that women will pay to see Chippendales-style male stripper shows.

They decide – despite being a bit flabby and un-hunk-like – to pick up some badly needed cash by baring it all. Or, in British slang, going the full monty.

The movie was a surprise hit and so was the Broadway musical. It ran for 770 performances – nearly two years – and grabbed nine Tony nominations.

New York Times critic Ben Brantley called it “a blaze of pure mass appeal” and “a crowd-pleaser you don’t have to apologize for liking.”

It has a funny and endearing book by Terrence McNally and a remarkably tuneful score by David Yazbek.

“It’s a rock musical, fast-moving, with lots of horns and lots of brass,” said Nickerson. “The book’s great, the music’s great, the relationships (among the characters) are great. The audience gets to care so much about the characters, they’re rooting for them.”

The show is intended strictly for mature audiences. The raunchy song lyrics alone mandate that; one song is titled “Big Ass Rock” and other lyrics are unprintable.

Yet Nickerson said he is not nervous about the audience reaction.

“I hope most of the people would already somewhat know what it’s about,” he said. “I didn’t want to worry about that – I just wanted to do it the way I wanted to do it.”

When the Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre produced “The Full Monty” in 2007, the audience wasn’t merely OK with the show’s theme – it was enthusiastic to the point of rowdiness.

The production was a huge smash for the theater.

There’s no reason to suspect that audiences won’t react the same way at the Civic.

Nickerson said that he is already hearing reports about large blocks of tickets being sold for ladies-night-out gatherings.

The show begins with a Chippendales-style number, bound to get people whooping and hollering.

“That’s one of the great things about the show,” said Nickerson. “They see the butt and then get over it for the rest of the show.”

Robby French plays the main character, Jerry Lukowski.

The rest of the cast includes Joseph Stafford, Jillian Wylie, Dennis Crumb, David Gigler, Michelle Philbin, Kevin N. Kuban, Anne Mitchell, Todd Kehne, Marnie Rorholm, Daniel McKeever, Max Daniels, Mary Starkey, Billy Hultquist, Thomas Heppler, Mark Rochon, Keyonna Knight, Janelle Frisque, SaraEllen Hutchison and Paul Emerson.

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