Broadway Gets Bare With Full Monty, Beginning Previews Sept. 25

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25 Sep 2000

The gentlemen of <I>The Full Monty</I> bare it all for art.
The gentlemen of The Full Monty bare it all for art.
Photo by Craig Schwartz

After this last, nearly nudity-free season, it's comforting to know that Broadway will bare itself again. This time, Broadway will get its barings in the form of the lovable losers in The Full Monty. The new musical by first-time theatrical composer David Yazbek begins performances Sept. 25 at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre with an opening set for Oct. 26.

After this last, nearly nudity-free season, it's comforting to know that Broadway will bare itself again. This time, Broadway will get its barings in the form of the lovable losers in The Full Monty. The new musical by first-time theatrical composer David Yazbek begins performances Sept. 25 at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre with an opening set for Oct. 26.

The cast features Jason Danieley, John Ellison Conlee, Patrick Wilson, Annie Golden, Emily Skinner, Andre De Shields, Romain Fruge, Kathleen Freeman and Lisa Datz. Wilson (Bright Lights, Big City, Fascinatin' Rhythm) stars as Jerry Lukowski (the Robert Carlyle role) -- the brains behind the amateur strippers -- who desperately wants to impress his son while earning some major cash.

Also with The Full Monty company are Nicholas Cutro, Thomas M. Fiss, Jay Douglas, Laura Marie Duncan, Angelo Fraboni, Denis Jones, Jannie Jones, Liz McConahay, Sue-Anne Morrow, Jason Opsahl, Patti Perkins, Jimmy Smagula, C.E. Smith, Matthew Stocke, Todd Weeks and Ronald Wyche.

"The Full Monty" was the surprise low-budget hit of 1997 with Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay and wins with Best Music, Original Musical or Comedy Score. The movie told of six average-looking British men who decide to star in a strip show to raise money in their economical depressed mill town (The term "the full monty" means to take something to the fullest - in the case of the strippers, that means to get completely naked). Ironically, the movie ended just as the gents braved "the full monty" to a club filled with the town's populace.



Terrence McNally and Yazbek, however, have opted to change the locale of the piece, moving it to Buffalo, New York from Sheffield, England. They have also added a few characters: a gorgeous gay stripper (Jones) who beats the stuffing out of homophobic Jerry (Wilson), and the guys' rehearsal pianist, Jeanette (Freeman), whose shining moment is "Jeanette's Blues."

Other songs in the score include "Michael Jordan's Ball," where the gents learn to strip through basketball drills, "Big Black Man," De Shield's song where he struts his moves, "You Walk With Me," a love song for Malcolm (Danieley) and Ethan (Fruge), "It's a Woman's World," a power number for Golden and her friends, set in the men's room, and the criticially praised comic suicide number "Big Ass Rock," in which Dave (Conlee) and Jerry contemplate the ways they can help Malcolm off himself.

McNally is, of course, well known for the books to Ragtime and Kiss of the Spider Woman as well as his plays Corpus Christi, The Lisbon Traviata and the oft-naked Love! Valor! Compassion!. Yazbek, on the other hand, is a pop songwriter has produced for XTZ, Space Hog and the late Tito Puente, while opening as a singer-songwriter for the acts Verve Pipe, the Samples and Ben Folds Five. His albums include "The Laughing Man," named Pop Album of the Year by NAIRD/AFIM, and 1998's "Tock."

The director, Old Globe artistic director Jack O'Brien, will repeat his duties on Broadway. A Tony Award winner for Porgy and Bess and nominated for Damn Yankees, O'Brien recently directed the Globe's productions of The Seagull, The Magic Fire and How the Grinch Stole Christmas!.

Jerry Mitchell is the choreographer. Mitchell has experience with movies and nudity -- his credits include "In & Out" and the yearly BC/EFA charity event Broadway Bares. Mitchell's also gave Hedwig and the Angry Inch their musical staging, as he did with Captains Courageous and the Paper Mill Playhouse's recent revival of Follies.

2000 Tony Award nominee Harold Wheeler did the orchestrations for Monty, with Ted Sperling as musical director. Wheeler orchestrated The Wiz, Dreamgirls, Little Me, A Chorus Line, Fame, The Life, and Side Show. Musical director Sperling last filled that post at the Old Globe with Floyd Collins.

Designing The Full Monty are John Arnone (sets), Howell Binkley (lighting), Robert Morgan (costumes) and Tom Clark (sound).

Tickets are $85-$30. The Eugene O'Neill is located at 230 West 49th Street. For tickets, call (212) 239-6200.

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The Full Monty opened at San Diego's Old Globe Theatre June 1 to good reviews and an Old Globe box office record. Before the show had faced the critics, 98 percent of the seats had been sold. In fact, demand for the show was so high, the Old Globe extended the run a week, through July 9.