The Full Monty
"Women can be angels on Earth/But then again/Holy goddamn fucking shit/Women can be men."
- Music and lyrics by David Yazbek
- Book by Terrence McNally
- Directed by Jack O'Brien
- Choreographed by Jerry Mitchell
- Musical direction by Ted Sperling
- Orchestrations by Harold Wheeler
John Ellison Conlee
Andre De Shields
Noah "Horse" T. Simmons
Laura Marie Duncan
Joanie Lish Liz McConahay Estelle Genovese Lisa Datz Pam Lukowski
*Nicholas Cutro or *Thomas Michael Fiss
Nathan Lukowski *Angelo Fraboni Teddy Slaughter *Patti Perkins Molly MacGregor *C. E. Smith Police Sergeant *Jay Douglas Minister *Jimmy Smagula Tony Giordano *Denis Jones Buddy "Keno" Walsh
- * = does not appear on CD
This musical was based on the film The Full Monty, except it's been dumbed down--err, Americanized for Broadway. You pretty much know the plot: Six unemployed steel workers in Buffalo decide to make money by becoming male strippers. The guy who comes up with the idea needs money to keep paying child support, or he'll lose joint custory of his son. One guy is fat and self-conscious. The black guy can dance. The former boss who teaches the guys to dance hasn't told his wife that he's out of work. The other two guys fall in love with each other. The six guys ultimately overcome shyness etc. to perform. Various wives, a gay Chippendales stripper, and an acid-tongued accompanist fill out the cast.
- It's a Woman's World
- Big-Ass Rock
- Life with Harold
- Big Black Man
- You Rule My World
- Michael Jordan's Ball
- Jeannette's Showbiz Number
- Breeze off the River
- The Goods
- You Walk With Me
- You Rule My World
- Let It Go
The Full Monty won no Tonys but was nominated for:
- Best Musical
- Best Book of a Musical
- Best Score of a Musical
- Best Actor in a Musical (Patrick Wilson)
- Best Featured Actor in a Musical (John Ellison Conlee, Andre De Shields)
- Best Featured Actress in a Musical (Kathleen Freeman)
- Best Choreography
- Best Direction of a Musical
- Best Orchestrations
I've seen the movie. I haven't seen the musical. And after listening to this CD, I have no interest whatsoever in seeing the musical. (I probably will when it tours--you get kinda desperate for professional musical theatre in Denver--but I sure won't be rushing to get to the theatre early.) Obviously I don't know what the choreography, acting, etc. was like, but this is one of the worst scores I've heard in a long, long time. You know you're in trouble when the composer's complete inexperience in the Broadway idiom is touted as a strength. And as far as I can tell, not only is Yazbek a rank (as in stinking) beginner along the Great White Way, but he's also not the world's most experienced composer, period. He appears to have put out a total of three albums before inexplicably getting this assignment. At least Paul Simon had been around for a few decades!
First, the idiom is rock and soft rock, which treads dangerous ground right there--except on rare occasions, rock music is NOT APPROPRIATE for musicals. It's too loud, too repetitive, the beat gets in the way of the lyrics, etc. Second and more important, these songs are pretty feeble simply as rock songs, never mind as show tunes. They have a real 1970's Lite Rock feel to them, veering from AM radio ballad to pseudo-disco thumpfest. Touches reminiscent of half a dozen MOR bands abound in this score. There's little in the way of musical sophistication; even harmony is rare. Rhyme schemes are simplistic for the most part, and the lyrics... well, I've heard worse sets, but not many. I have plenty of fodder for my next edition of Really Crappy Lyrics, that's for sure! The only tolerable song is "Scrap," which is a decent opening number with a certain amount of musical invention; it raised my expectations for this score to a modest level, but they came crashing down immediately upon hearing "It's a Woman's World" and never recovered. Some numbers are so bad they're painful. "Life with Harold" is an embarrassment, a screeching, repetitious litany of Harold's good qualities, and "Michael Jordan's Ball" is one of those WTF? moments--I was listening in the car, unable to look at the story summary, and I could not for the life of me figure out why they would be singing about Michael Jordan's basketball. Turns out that the six guys use the image of playing with his ball so that they become a "team" and learn to dance together. Yeah, sure. Maybe this works on stage, but it sure the HELL does not work on CD. Half the songs are cloyingly sentimental (the lead guy sings to his son, the boss guy sings to his wife, the gay guys sing to each other, the wives sing to their husbands) and sound like Yazbek was composing them with an ear towards hearing them on the radio. He sure wasn't composing for the story. Maybe three songs in this score deal with the story. And, can you believe it, there's only one real solo in the entire show?
The book is an oddity, a splendid movie and concept turned into mushy feel-goodness for the American crowd. The lyrics and dialogue hammer you over the head with everything: these guys are out of work! These guys feel worthless! These guys have dreams! etc. Titanic did the same thing, but Titanic was infinitely superior in many other ways.
And oh, those poor actors. For one thing, there are too many of them. I guess that's why there's only one solo--so that all the actors get to sing something, even if it's just in the background.
- By dint of his reputation and his status as the token black guy, Andre De Shields tends to come off as the star of the show. At least he stands out! God knows he's ten times as interesting to listen to as the white guys. His big number, "Big Black Man," is a pretty terrible song, but he squeezes what he can out of it. It's not the audio showstopper that a lot of people say it is, though.
- Same with the late Kathleen Freeman, who gets the awkward "Jeannette's Big Number" and does what she can with it. She sure was a trouper.
- What in the world is Emily Skinner doing in this mess? Why, for the love of Pete, waste her voice on that abysmal "Life with Harold"? And who told her to shriek like that?
- Patrick Wilson and John Ellison Conlee sound almost identical, so it's all but impossible to tell who's singing when they share a song. While not incompetent, they're not memorable, either. I hope they're good actors.
- The rest of the cast--who can tell? They're always singing with someone else, so they all blend into one big annoying company.
This, at least, is appropriate to a Broadway CD. There's an introduction by Lindsay Law, former president of Fox Searchlight Pictures, which distributed the movie; a cast list in order of appearance (though nothing by character importance); full orchestra and production credits; a song list with singers; a plot synopsis; some decent photos; and the libretto, though given the general crappiness of the lyrics, this last may not be such a desirable commodity.
If you reeeeally like pseudo-70s lite rock, or if you saw the show and enjoyed it, you'd want this CD. Otherwise, stay far, far away from it--go watch the practice and stripping scenes in the movie if you're dying for some musical Full Monty action. If you're a fan of one of the principals and not a fanatical completist, you'd be much better off buying something else on which he/she appears.
All non-lyric material copyright 2002, D. Aviva Rothschild. All rights reserved
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