Whoop-whoop-whoop! A bevy of boisterous female beauties sitting immediately in front of me, hooting and holler ing, set the tone for Saturday night’s performance of Owosso Community Players’ “The Full Monty,” responding to everysingle-male-pelvic thrust with a glorious gusto of grunts and groans.
Director Garret Bradley took a valiant stab at putting this play into a sociological context in the program notes, writing that desperation can sometimes be the mother of invention, that unemployment can drive grown men to depths of embarrassment — heretofore mainly the province of female strippers.
This production of “The Full Monty,” however, is mostly played for laughs. While there is poignancy and pathos in the back stories of the men stripping, women onstage and off focus a whole lot on the “men are meat” element of the stripping.
Leading the pack of the out-of-work steelworkers driven to be strippers are best buds Jerry Lukowski and Dave Bukatinsky — an unlikely Mutt-and- Jeff combo of slim and slight with chunky and chubby. Adam Woolsey is lithe and limber, while Michael Windnagle is big and burly. Jerry is a divorced father struggling to pay child support. Dave is hard to convince that he should put his body on display.
They are joined by four others, each with a significant personal story. In the song “Big Ass Rock,” Jerry and Dave rescue Malcolm, played by Alex Quinlan, from a carbon monoxide suicide. In “Big Black Man,” we see the aging Horse, played by Artis White, do a super coollaid-back dance in which he bemoans the average proportions of his … junk.
Malcolm is joined in a touching solo acknowledging his mother’s death, how alone he feels, by Ethan, played by Jake Przybyla, who turns the mourning into a celebration of a loving same-sex relationship.
There are several strong female voices in the play, especially that of the piano player Jeanette, played by Katy Kowalski.
Her “Show Biz” number is a scene-stealer in a production with many stirring scenes. Angela Freeland Bradley as Georgie Bukatinsky, Dave’s wife, brings a strong singing voice and a depth of character to her role, while Stephanie Banghart leads a quartet of groupies through episodic onstage howling.
Director Bradley doubles as choreographer. Using basketball moves as a motivator, he gets steelworker men to jump through hoops and dance like men who have ever danced might dance.
Bradley’s musical director, Nick Frederick, conducts an exquisite nine-member orchestra with dueling trumpets of Alex Floury and Matt Meeuwse fueling the dance numbers with fiery staccato flourishes.
Owosso? Worth the drive.
“The Full Monty” Owosso Community Players
Through June 24 $22.50, adult, $20.50, student and senior, $14.50, children 12 and under Friday 8 p.m. Saturday, 8 p.m. Sunday, 3 p.m. The Lebowsky Center (989) 723-4003 www.owossoplayers.com