"Let it go!" says Ann Olin, our intrepid director, as we reluctantly peel off another article of clothing. This is the rehearsal stage for "The Full Monty," and life is absolutely imitating art in this hysterical tragicomedy that we call community theater.
The storyline of the play is like this: Six unemployed steelworkers figure they can make a quick killing and get themselves back on their feet by stripping for one night only at a huge club for the local ladies. Mind you, these are not well-toned Chippendales looking fellows. And they can't dance. As potential lady customers deride their idea, the men blurt out spontaneously (and very publicly) that they will do what Chippendales won't do and go "The Full Monty."
Nude. All. The. Way. Franks and Beans.
This was not planned from the beginning and they're not sure they can deliver, especially when they begin to have serious self-doubts about themselves and their imperfect bodies.
Welcome to our cast.
The exact same feelings are running rampant during rehearsals. As we were supposed to be cast, none of us is really that great a physical specimen. There's a song the ladies sing in a nightmare sequence that complains "He's fat, he's old, he's skinny, he's bald, he's short, he's got pimples on his ass ..."
Um, well, yeah. That's us.
So we are having the identical self esteem issues of the characters we're supposedly channeling. It does not help that the ladies in our cast will not ever be taking off any clothes and they rehearse at different times and so it makes us wonder if they're talking about us behind our backs and, I mean, omigod I just want to cry and go eat ice cream and doughnuts and crawl up in a corner.
In the script, out of this frenzy of nerves emerges several touching sub-stories. Jerry is about to lose his son because he can't pay for joint custody. His friends (and former co-workers) aren't doing much better: Dave is depressed and convinced his wife isn't interested in their marriage anymore; Malcolm has to take care of his mom and is suicidal; and Harold has been lying to his wife for six months about his unemployment. The wonderful moral of this story is that all can be fixed by taking off your clothes.
You've probably seen the movie. It was great. The lines were hard to understand due to a strong cockneyed accent, but it was great. What we have here is a musical adaptation set in the U.S. So for one thing, you'll be able to catch every word, some of which are a bit naughty (think twice about bringing the small kids). And second, the song and dance numbers are utterly fantastic and often show stopping. But wait! That's not all .... We'll throw in dinner and drinks! Yes, folks, this is Musical Dinner Theater with the anticipation of full frontal nudity for dessert.
This is the first in a series of weekly reports I will be dispatching from the field as we barrel through rehearsals. Please follow along, and see if you think we really have the, uh, balls to do this.
Bart Garton is a long time local, professional video producer, and amateur thespian. Email comments about this column to email@example.com.