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The Full Monty
12/29-1/1 and 1/5-8
Thurs.-Sat. 8 p.m.
Sunday matinees 3 p.m.
$20-25
www.citystagenc.com

These men go ‘The Full Monty’ in City Stage’s latest production. Courtesy photo

Lately I’ve been given this piece of advice from several folks: Don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s provided to me most often when my boyfriend’s oh-so-endearing quirks and traits are wearing my last nerve. For instance, I attempt to arrive at all appointments and events on time; he once wasted an entire day of vacation or, “just one more thing.” This phrase of his, abhorred by all who know him (relatives and friends alike), means there is no telling what time he might actually be ready—15 minutes or, in the case of our Charleston trip, 24 hours.

Like any woman, I have a long list of things my man can do which drives me mad. Alas, I mustn’t sweat the small stuff. Rather I slap a smile on my face and remember although punctuality isn’t his strong suit, he has a much longer list of qualities I adore.

Such is just one of many lessons learned by the characters in “The Full Monty,” the latest production from City Stage. Opening December 29th at Thalian Hall, the story begins with two unemployed steel workers who are strapped for cash and self-esteem. Dave, played by Anthony David Lawson, and Jerry, portrayed by Gray Hawks, have reached the lowest of lows—right down to hiding out in the bathroom of a strip club to spy on a girls’ night out.

They discover women’s inclination to spend money on the nearly nude Chippendales, as well as overhear their wives’ disgruntled concerns about the home front. Georgie (Heather Setzler), Dave’s wife, airs his insecurities about his weight. Jerry’s ex-wife Pam (Caitlin Becka) grieves the loss of her marriage along with his inability to pay child support. Still, the women enjoy their newly realized independence as the bread winners, showcased in their song, “It’s a Woman’s World.”

Imaginably, Dave and Jerry feel pretty crappy about themselves. With no job prospects, they can’t change their money situation, let alone any other problems. But remembering that the girls will toss bills to a man in a thong gives them hope: They think they can rival the strip-tease act by baring it all—the full monty. One by one they gather old co-workers, and they hold auditions for well-endowed dancers. They even find a brave female pianist to accompany their show, played in this production by Barbara Weetman.

The tale of “The Full Monty”originated as a British film released in 1997 but made its debut as an American musical in 2000. City Stage brought “The Fully Monty” to Wilmington five years ago. “We have four of the main guys back,” director Justin Smith says, “and 13 new cast members.” Although, he didn’t make them strip to earn the role, he assures.

The ever-talented Chiaki Ito is the musical director with choreography from Carson Capps, who worked for 10 years in New York City and on Broadway prior to returning to North Carolina. As for the duds department, Smith says the show is meant to be set in the ‘80s, but they decided to go a different route the second time around.

“This show has gained some relevance over the past few years because of the economy, so we’ve tried to give the costuming a more current feel,” he explains. For audience members, this means witnessing “The Full Monty” actresses dress in complete “Jersey Shore” style.

“The nice part about having done this before is that your starting point is different,” Smith notes. “We have already explored a lot, and this time around we’ve really peeled some layers off the onion. There’s a lot of depth to what could easily be entertaining on a superficial level.”

“The Full Monty” isn’t just about fat, broke, middle-aged men taking their clothes off for cash. Though the main premise is, yes, they’re putting an even raunchier spin on the Chippendales show, the characters remove more than shirts and pants. They search within themselves to find strength to overcome inferiority complexes and relationship struggles, and finally give something their best shot.

“It’s about setting your mind to something and having the courage to pull it off,” Smith details. “It’s about relationships of all kinds, and how trusting and believing in those relationships can pull you through even the most difficult of circumstances. It’s the perfect show for New Year’s.”

Seeing that the musical’s run dates land right on New Year’s Eve, City Stage worked up a special gala for the first Saturday showing. While tickets are normally $20 for the December 29th, 30th and January 1st showings, and $25 for January 5th through 8th, seating for the celebration event is $75 per person. Doors will open at 7 p.m. for the gala, and the ticket price includes hors d’oeuvre, an open bar, dancing, a DJ—and the full monty!

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Encore Magazine regularly covers topics pertaining to news, arts, entertainment, food, and city life in Wilmington. It also maintains schedules and listings of local events like concerts, festivals, live performance art and think-tank events. Encore Magazine is an entity of H&P Media, which also powers Wilmington’s local ticketing platform, 910tix.com. Print and online editions are updated every Wednesday.

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