The Full Monty

Full-MontyOriginal Broadway Cast, 2000 (BMG) 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5) A great pleasure of experiencing this show live was seeing how well Terrence McNally’s script melded with show-tune novice David Yazbek’s music and lyrics. Based on a hit film from England, The Full Monty concerns a group of unemployed guys who resort to stripping in a club to earn some dough. The property really needed a contemporary voice to make it believable as a musical — and, in Yazbek, that’s what it got. The pop-tinged songs sound effortless, the lyrics as natural as dialogue coming from the mouths of these working-class men and the women in their lives. Modern though the music sounds, Yazbek writes marvelously well along traditional musical theater lines, from the comically confessional “Scrap” (that’s what these laid-off steel workers feel like) to “Jeanette’s Showbiz Number,” sung with world-weary pizzazz by the great Kathleen Freeman. Irreverence abounds in AndrĂ© De Shields’s “Big Black Man” and in the show’s shining gem, “Big Ass Rock,” in which antihero Jerry (Patrick Wilson) and best-buddy Dave (John Ellison Conlee) use darkly humorous reverse psychology to talk a fellow worker and soon-to-be fellow stripper out of committing suicide. The show also has its poignant moments in “You Walk With Me” and “Breeze Off the River.” While the songs don’t pack the same punch here as they do onstage, this is still a great score to enjoy on recording. — Brooke Pierce