Taking Off

First things first: yes, the men of The Full Monty do go the full monty. But in this effervescent, first-rate production of the musical, the joy in the titillation of their final striptease lies less in the moment when they exuberantly bare all and more in the delightful journey taken along the way. Many will argue that composer David Yazbek was robbed of the Tony in 2001 when his score went unnoticed in a year bulldozed by The Producers. This quiet gem of a show played a respectable run but failed to earn the acclaim it surely would have enjoyed in a non-Producers year. Thankfully, Yazbek has brought his jazzy, pop-edged music to a new Broadway show, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and the rights to The Full Monty are now available, allowing theatergoers to enjoy its charms once more. The Gallery Players have produced its first New York City revival, and it is truly a must-see.

Based on the British film, this Full Monty takes place in working-class Buffalo, N.Y. Jerry Lukowski, out of work and down on his luck, must earn money to pay child support, or his ex-wife Pam will end their joint custody of their son. One night he and his buddy Dave Bukatinsky witness women screaming for a male stripper in a club, and Jerry is instantly inspired. Why not strip, earn money to pay alimony, and give "real men" a chance to show what they are made of? The "Hot Metal" act is born, and the rest of the show follows the men's auditions, rehearsals, and final performance. It's a simple story, but acclaimed playwright Terrence McNally has written a book that is both hilarious and touching and that lovingly gives each man his own finely drawn story.

Director Matt Schicker deserves accolades for helming such a tight production and, most important, for pulling together a gifted ensemble. Each of the six principals proves himself a triple threat

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