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Going all the way

Mills College Weekly

Toned thighs, abs of steel and hard buns. These are words you will not be using to describe the six unemployed men of Buffalo, New York who go the full Monty-British slang for total nudity-as their last resort to raise money.

You will laugh, get a little sentimental and walk away feeling you got your money’s worth.

A hearty adaptation of the popular 1997 Academy Award nominated film about laid-off steel workers in Sheffield, England, Full Monty the play is one of the most successful Broadway adaptations of a movie.

It’s a gritty portrayal of six out of work and humiliated men who get together to make some fast cash. When a male strip show becomes a hit with the local women, the down-on-their luck factory workers decide they can cash in by going the whole nine yards-taking their clothes off.

Although all six men eventually agree to the unlikely situation, it takes a lot of convincing from the ringleader, Jerry Lukowski. For Jerry, played by Christian Anderson, this is his last chance to keep visitation rights with his son and catch up on back child support.

As the story progresses, each of the men find their own viable reasons to strip down to their skivvies. But as we get further into the complexities of the men, the story becomes less about stripping, and more about how these men conjure up the courage to rise above insecurities that have taken over their lives and work together as a team.

All the testosterone in the play can be daunting; but, there is a softer inside, seen through the women who, unlike the men, have their lives together. Jerry’s ex-wife, Pam (Whitney Allen), is a career woman concerned with raising her son and hoping that Jerry gets his act together. Georgie Bukatinsky (Jennifer Naimo), Dave Bukatinsky’s wife, sees beyond her husband’s expanding waistline, something that he can’t allow do. Bourgeois wife Vicki Nichols (Heidi Blickenstaff) copes when her husband, Harold Nichols, lost his high-paying job at the factory, even though he can’t.

Director Jack O’ Brien has managed to bring out lovable and multidimensional characters that the audience roots for. He gives us successfully, six blue-collar men dealing with issues of fatherhood, body image and what it means to be a man.

Accompanied by jagged, witty lyrics, Full Monty is a crowd pleaser with a clever surprise ending at the end that won’t disappoint.