Workshop Theatre of Columbia is "taking it off" on the road, bringing its successful production of The Full Monty to Piccolo Spoleto.
Ten years ago, a film came out about six laid-off English steelworkers who devise a seemingly ridiculous idea to get cash — taking their clothes off. The movie gave the world a new name for those private parts (move over, twig and berries) and showed bridesmaids everywhere who not to hire for the bachelorette party. But it was also a heart-tugging tale of men overcoming their body issues (a rite of passage for any middle-aged man) and finding the dignity in stripping for cash.
The stage musical relocates the action to Buffalo, N.Y., with six steelworkers struggling to make ends meet. Behind on his child support, unemployed steel worker Jerry Lukowski and his good buddy Dave Bukatinski (did I mention this was set in Buffalo?) hatch the scheme to host a one-night-only male strip show. The two find four other unflattering fellows reluctantly willing to take it all off, reasoning that the ladies will look past a few spare tires and frail muscles if they get a look at "the full monty."
"People enjoy it, not just because of the risqué aspect," says Jason Stokes, who plays Jerry. "But because it's not about getting the guy and girl together at the end. It's all about bonding and building true friendship."
Written by Broadway favorite Terrence McNally with music by David Yazbek, the Broadway production was a smash, garnering nine Tony nominations. And it seems that Yankees aren't the only ones who have a hankering for a male-stripper yarn. The Columbia production premiered to sell-out crowds last fall and was voted "Best Local Theatre Production" last year by the readers of Columbia's Free Times.
Stokes' favorite song is "Michael Jordan's Ball," which closes out the first act as the amateur strippers find a muse in the Nike legend.
"You really think these guys might be able to pull this off," he says. "They're using something they know — basketball — to help with something they don't know: dancing."
The finale of the show, "Let It Go," could have audiences talking about more than the peep show.
"It's such a build-up," Stokes says. "When they're all on the stage and everyone is watching and cheering them on, it's a great way to end the show."
THE FULL MONTY • Piccolo Spoleto's Theatre Series • $26, $24 seniors and students • (2 hours) • June 2 at 2 p.m.; June 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 at 7 p.m. • Charleston Ballet Theatre, 477 King St. • 554-6060