Butt Boys

The guys are stripping again in The Full Monty at Weathervane.

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The Full Monty The Chippendales Weathervane Community Playhouse Cleveland theater Weathervane Community Playhouse, 1301 Weathervane Lane, Akron Through July 8, 330-836-2626
As long as the idea of seeing male genitalia makes people go weak in the knees, there probably will be a place for The Full Monty. Because, unlike many shows in the last couple of decades that actually disrobed performers, this coy show teases, but never delivers.

That's probably a good thing, given the lumpy guys who are cast as the blue-collar Buffalo strippers; anything more explicit would likely be a case of too much information. This musical adaptation of the British movie is dependent on the fellows who are handed the satin thongs and asked to carry the show without revealing their naughty bits. And happily, the masculine side of the cast at Weathervane is up to the task.

With a frequently amusing book by Terrence McNally and deft compositions by David Yazbek, Monty touches on a number of non-crotch-centered issues, including unemployment, depression, absentee fatherhood, and whether it's better to be killed by a falling rock or a steamrolling steamroller.

A handful of out-of-work proles get the bright idea to put on a one-night strip show, à la Chippendales, so they can climb out of debt. Led by divorced dad Jerry and his best friend, Dave, the fellows rehearse at night in their empty factory, fantasizing about stud stardom. It's the iconic Broadway dream morphed into a downtrodden town, where most of the employment opportunities come with a Wal-Mart smiley-face smock.

The central role of Jerry is handled by Rob Albrecht, who blends idealism, fatherly concern, and inherent male knuckleheadedness into a believable and ultimately touching portrayal. He is ably supported by hefty Patrick Ciamacco as Dave, who shows that his bulk can be both a torment (when trying to imagine his striptease) and a comfort. His half of the "You Rule My World" duet is a humorously loving ode to his ample gut.

The men who orbit around Albrecht's and Ciamacco's solid center also have their moments. Nerdy Malcolm (Jason Mazan) and reputedly well-hung Ethan (Rob Daugherty) seem like two average dudes, until they realize they share a passion for -- hmm -- The Sound of Music. As Horse, Dave Moody garners some laughs, but he could go further with the great lyrics in "Big Black Man," which include "I'm what your sister and your mama's always thinking of/I take up eight whole chapters in the book of love."

Directed by Jacqi Loewy, with musical direction by Evie Rosen-Morris, the production unspools smoothly. Most of the women in the cast, however, exhibit an inability to throw away a line, giving some dialogue scenes an amateurish stamp with loud, flat line readings. The delightful exception is Mary Jane Nottage as the hunched-over, hard-bitten piano player, Jeanette. She deadpans plenty ("You want to be in show business? You should be spayed first!") and brazens her way through her "Showbiz Number" without singing a single correct note.

All in all, it's a breezy production -- and not just for the participants.

About The Author

Christine Howey

Christine Howey has been reviewing theater since 1997, first at Cleveland Free Times and then for other publications including City Pages in Minneapolis, MN and The Plain Dealer. Her blog, Rave and Pan, also features her play reviews. Christine is a former stage actor and director, primarily at Dobama Theatre...
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