Capsule reviews of current area theater presentations.

Cleveland theater
The Full Monty -- As long as the idea of seeing male genitalia makes people go weak in the knees, there probably will be a place for The Fully Monty. 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. They play a handful of out-of-work proles from blue-collar Buffalo who 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. Directed by Jacqi Loewy, with musical direction by Evie Rosen-Morris, the production unspools smoothly. 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. Althought the men who orbit around them also have their moments, most of the women in the cast 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, who deadpans plenty and brazens her way through her "Showbiz Number" without singing a single correct note. 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. All in all, it's a breezy production -- and not just for the participants. Through July 8 at the Weathervane Community Playhouse, 1301 Weathervane Lane, Akron, 330-836-2626. -- Christine Howey

Oliver! -- The songs are still the heroes in Cain Park's production of Lionel Bart's Oliver!, but even with a compelling tale and great music, this open-air production seems less than a sum of its parts, thanks to lapses in the pacing and book scenes that slog rather than snap. Oliver!, adapted from Charles Dickens' novel about poor orphan Oliver Twist, starts off in a horrific workhouse and moves through all strata of British society -- from scoundrel Fagin's grimy den of pickpockets to the gracious Brownlow's cushy crib -- giving us a walking tour of degradation, survival, and finally, hope. Fagin is abetted in his nefarious activities by Nancy (Patty Lohr), a gutter rat who is in a doomed relationship with the vicious robber Bill Sykes (a snarly Bob Russell). As Oliver, young Lincoln Sandham is appropriately thin, physically and vocally, but more could be made of his feisty side. George Roth, as Fagin, captures the right blend of mendacity and avuncular paternalism, and Patty Lohr makes a strong-voiced Nancy. But in a cast numbering almost 55, the real standout performers are the workhouse boys and girls, along with Fagin's motley crew, who are all consistently focused, disciplined, and energetic on stage. Credit their mature presence to director Fred Sternfeld and the gifted Martin Cespedes, who choreographed and staged musical numbers. Sternfeld, however -- usually masterful at managing large-cast shows -- seems to lose his firm grip on character and pacing in several scenes. The dysfunctional Mr. Bumble (Kris Hebble) and Widow Corney (Juliet Regnier) seem more corny than comical, and when the kids are asleep in the thieves' kitchen, Fagin wanders from his table to the fireplace, seemingly without purpose, until the audience begins to nod off too. This Oliver! just barely earns its exclamation point, thanks largely to the kid singers and dancers who repeatedly kick it back to life. Through July 8 at Cain Park, corner of Lee and Superior roads, Cleveland Heights, 216-371-3000. -- Howey

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