StageWorks Fresno’s production of “The Full Monty” is like any good striptease, it builds anticipation and has a big payoff. I don’t want to give too much away and ruin the fun of this witty musical that builds with the will-they-or-won’t-they-take-it-all-off banter. So in that vein, I’m going to offer five reasons why you should see this show.
1. It’s funny. And I mean laugh-out-loud funny. The banter between the men – regular guys, some older, overweight and a bit awkward, who decide to put on a one-night-only striptease to make money after losing their jobs – is clever and fun. There are times you’ll think, “did they really just say that?” Yep! And it makes it all the more fun. You’ll be waiting for the next outlandish zinger. It’s been a long time since I laughed so much at a live show.
2. It has a good message. And it’s an important one. We hear a lot of discussion in society about body image and self-worth tied to women. But what about men? This show flips the gender stereotypes and challenges us all to think about how we judge and view people based on how they look. The vulnerability of the men really leaves an impression.
3. It’s relevant. The story dives into the effect unemployment has on a man’s self-worth. How much of our identity is tied to our jobs and success in our careers? And, what happens to us when that is taken away? What effect does it have on our loved ones? That may sound too serious, and a downer. But trust me, it’s not in this show. This commentary gives the show heart and makes you root for the guys, and the people around them.
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4. It’s for adults. Hooray! I like that StageWorks pushes the boundaries. The characters talk like adults – they curse and make crass observations. But they also feel deeply, and know the deeper implications of what’s happening in their lives. You will find someone to relate to here. Two show-stopping numbers really hit on this point for me: “Big Black Man” and “The Goods.” So strong.
5. It’s creative. I’m always impressed with how Director Joel Abels takes the small space of The Dan Pessano Theater and turns it into a lively setting. And that’s no different for this show. If you haven’t seen a show there, do it! The dance numbers were fun – and just unpolished enough to stay true to the oddball characters. And, the creative use of lighting – especially in the key final scene – really works. You’ll leave with a smile.