Last things first: Yes, the gents drop trous in the final scene.
What can you see? Scanty little, if you’ve got swift eyes. Blink, and it’s over because back lighting is blinding.
“The Full Monty,” Manoa Valley Theatre’s opener of its 2017-18 season, is gimmicky and cheesy, but offers moderate appeal to devotees of the Chippendale’s franchise and fans of the 1997 British film of the same name.
‘THE FULL MONTY’
A musical based on the 1997 film, with book by Terrence McNally, music and lyrics by David Yazbek; produced by Manoa Valley Theatre
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 4 p.m. Sundays, through Sept. 24
Where: Manoa Valley Theatre
Tickets: $22-$40, at 988-6131 or www.manoavalleytheatre.com
Advisory: Contains adult themes and language; minimum age is 16
Running time: 2:45
It’s occasionally naughty, spiced by expletives-laced dialogue, but essentially nice in intentions. The plot is as skimpy as the G-strings the gents don prior to the finale blackout, and if there are any socially redeeming virtues, it’s this: when you get dealt a losing hand, never give up hope; losers can be winners, too.
The original tale was set in blue collar England, where steelworkers lose their jobs, their paychecks, their self-esteem, their pride.
The locale is now Buffalo, N.Y., with parallel economic conditions. What are dudes to do, when childcare support funds are drying, marriages are crumbling, wives are overspending, and self-confidence is evaporating?
Desperation, not imitation, is the mother of invention here. Three steelers — Jerry Lukowski (Christopher Denton), Dave Bukatinsky (David Herman) and
Malcolm MacGregor (David A. Heulitt) — are hurting for employment and get jealous when they venture into a strip club and see and hear women gleefully having the time of their lives. Each has personal issues: Lukowski stands to lose custody rights to see his son Nathan (Nicholas Lockwood) and his estranged wife Pam (Hulita Drake) is on the verge of remarrying; Bukatinsky’s overweight problem has affected his love life with wife Georgie (Jennifer Sojot); MacGregor has suicidal tendencies and a controlling handicapped mom (Aiko Chinen).
They attempt to create their own brand of a strip act, tapping Noah “Horse” T. Simmons (Jason Pepper Lam), Harold Nichols (Timothy Jeffreys) Ethan Gerard (Jacob Rios), who bring baggage. “Horse,” an African American, has been the butt of jokes because of his nickname; Nichols has not leveled with his wife that he’s lost his management job at the mill; Gerard has repeated delusions of dancing (or prancing) on the walls.
Director Paul Mitri is tasked with making non-singing, non-dancing, non-hunk leads sound and look good; alas the score lacks memorable tunes though one ballad about friendship is charming and effective.
Jeanette Burmeister (Rebecca Lea McCarthy) is a colorful and ditzy delight as a rehearsal pianist; Buddy “Keno” Walsh (Tyler Kanemori), with long hair, tattooed and contoured body, is memorable as a male stripper.
Jenny Shiroma is challenged to conduct largely formulaic music, Mareva Minerbi’s choreography takes into consideration she is dealing with non-dancers, James Corry’s costumes range from bright glam to thrift store, Michelle Bisbee’s sets are a bewildering mix of brick walls, faux glass windows, and steel file cabinet draws doubling as pull-out beds.