If the holy grail of theater is for a play to be heartfelt, humorous and honest, well, the quest is done.
The Full Monty at Rochester Opera House is just that: a raucous, roller-coaster romp through assorted stereotypes, myths and mayhem, all on the way to a magical moment when six men bare it all, not to embarrass themselves, but to regain some measure of self-respect and pay some bills.
The plot of this iconic play is well known: a group of laid-off factory workers hatch a plan to put on a striptease to raise money they desperately need after seeing how much women are willing to plunk down watching the Chippendales, but halfway through their scheme they see their chances to strike it rich founder when women complain they aren't in as good a shape as the professional male strippers.
"Yeah, but unlike the Chippendales, we take it all off," says ringleader Jerry, played by Billy Butler, which gets the gals plunking down the big bucks to see "The Full Monty" and sets the stage for the much-anticipated final scene.
The sight of these six "regular guys," overweight or out of shape, practicing day after day at the art of male stripping is the essence of the physical comedy this show embodies, but the interplay in word and song between the men; and between the men, their wives, ex-wives and girlfriends, is its heart and soul.
Butler, along with Jonathan Acorn (Malcom), Tomer Oz (Ethan), Scott Severance (Harold), Cam Torres (Dave) and John Lathan as Horse are a sixpack of fun and unforgettable theater.
Hats off to Executive Director Anthony Ejarque for delivering the fastest two and a half hours of entertainment we've seen for a while and giving Rochester a great way to beat the January blahs.
Speaking of hats, watch for the hat trick at the end of the show.
Word to the wise: Don't miss this show!
The Full Monty is sponsored by AARP New Hampshire and The Rochester Voice, and runs Friday through Sunday through Feb. 1.