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Capital Playhouse goes The Full Monty

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Before you ask, the answer is yes.

Now: only three years after the 1997 film version, this musical version of The Full Monty made its debut in San Diego. Other than a transplant from Sheffield to Brooklyn, the story is pretty much what you recall from the Oscar-nominated movie: six average guys, emasculated by unemployment, endeavor to stage a one-night-only, full-frontal strip act they call "Hot Steel." (The re-masculating $50,000 payoff is tough to believe, but oh, well.) Jerry (Patrick Wigren), their ringleader, needs money to catch up on his child support payments. Dave (Chris Serface), his best friend, is tired of seeing himself as a "fat bastard." Few are in peak physical condition; none are trained dancers. Meanwhile, their longsuffering families wonder where they disappear to each evening.

I know there are patrons out there, even in liberal Olympia, who don't want multiple F-bombs and dick jokes in their lighthearted musical comedy, but none of those folks attended the packed opening night at Capital Playhouse. Indeed, the atmosphere was almost as rowdy as a Chippendales audience. (I suspect some of CP's female patrons were hopped up on Fifty Shades of Grey.) The biggest laughs in Full Monty's first few minutes come from its costumes, and I mean that as a compliment. The show is set in the early 1990s, so yes, kids, it's true we wore clothing and hairstyles that bordered on clownish. Women teased their hair into orbit, and people actually went to bars to see nudity, because the Internet was JPEG-free. The program credits "Costumes by Ricky," with wigs by Michael Costain. Director Jerod Nace, who played a closeted dancer in Tacoma Musical Playhouse's production, brings it all together in his first CP mainstage at-bat.

A few songs in, the laughter shifts to David Yazbek's lyrics. "Big-Ass Rock," in which Jerry and Dave list methods by which a new friend might commit suicide, is amusing throughout. The show really takes off with the arrival of an auditioner nicknamed Horse, played with gusto by Geoffery Simmons. I admired Mr. Simmons's work as the Ghost of Christmas Present in last winter's Scrooge, and he's very good here. Gregory Conn channels J.K. Simmons as the team's choreographer, and Leland Brungardt grins contagiously (if somewhat vapidly) as a dancer with what Dirk Diggler would call "one special thing." Bruce Haasl nails a difficult ballad, "You Walk With Me," a highlight of the second act. The score is syncopated and tricky; but while the cast holds its own, mic sound is frequently muddled.

Two supporting players deserve special mention here: Lark Orvick-Moore repeats a TMP performance as Jeanette, a fiery showbiz veteran, and Jeff Barehand ignites the crowd as a professional Chippendales dancer. The orchestra has a number of shining moments, especially the reeds, and Matthew Lawrence's lighting design walks a fine line between sunny and strip bar garish. The cast should be grateful for a harshly backlit cue near the climax.

The Full Monty offers social commentary sans doom and gloom, awkward but enthusiastic dancing, plenty of laughs, and a lineup of lily-white man flesh. Predictable? Sure. But like Hot Steel, it goes exactly as far as it promises.

[Capital Playhouse, The Full Monty, $28-$39, Wed.-Sat. 7:30 p.m., Sun. 2 p.m. through May 27, 612 E. 4th Ave., Olympia, 360.943.2744]

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Comments for "Capital Playhouse goes The Full Monty" (1)

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Carv said on May. 21, 2012 at 7:23am

Correction: the troupe is called "Hot Metal."

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