Ziegfeld Theatre Company gives Park City ‘The Full Monty’
Ziegfeld Theatre Company will present “The Full Monty” Thursdays through Sundays, May 24 to 27, and May 31 through June 3, at the Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St. Curtain for Thursday through Saturday performances will start at 8 p.m. Sunday shows will begin at 6 p.m. Thursday tickets range from $23-35. Tickets for Friday to Sunday range from $29 to $45. The production does include brief male backside nudity. For information and to buy tickets, visit http://www.parkcityshows.com.
On the surface, “The Full Monty” exposes its audiences to comedy.
It’s about a group of unemployed male steelworkers who turn to stripping to pay the bills.
For director Hugh Hanson, the production isn’t just about physical comedy. It’s also about love.
“I like to say this show has every kind of love you can think of,” Hanson said. “There is marriage love. There is family love. There is friend love. There is even a kind of love between ex-marriage partners. And that love makes them do things they normally wouldn’t do.”
Ziegfeld Theatre Company will show the power of love when it presents “The Full Monty” in two runs, Thursdays through Sundays, May 24 to 27, and May 31 through June 3, at the Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St.
The musical, which was nominated for 10 Tony Awards in 2001, is based on Peter Cattaneo’s award-winning 1997 film. Instead of being set in the one-time steel hub of Sheffield, England, it’s set in Buffalo, New York, in the American Rust Belt.
Hanson credits writer Terrence McNally and composer-lyricist David Yazbek for successfully adapting Simon Beaufoy’s film script to the musical.
“It’s such a great story,” Hanson said. “It’s well-written, and the story is so engaging and accessible to everyone. You wouldn’t think about that because it’s about men stripping, but the show taps into everyone’s life fears, insecurities, relationships and things like that.”
Those topics were important for Hanson to focus on while directing the play.
“These men lost their jobs, which is something that continues to happen (in manufacturing hubs), and they have to figure out something to do that will help them keep ahold of their lives,” he said. “The play addresses how desperate the men were because they not only loved their families, they also loved being the breadwinners. And while they don’t have perfect bodies, they have to overcome their doubts and insecurities to provide for the people they love.”
There were a few details Hanson was required to adhere to when casting the play.
“There is an African-American character and there is a (plus)-sized character and there is a character that has to be older than the rest of the bunch,” he said. “That guided me, but more than anything, the casting was driven by the actors’ ability to make contact with the understanding of what love can make us do.”
In addition, the men had to leave some of their inhibitions and clothes in the dressing room.
“They needed to have some nerve because they do have to get down to wearing almost nothing,” Hanson said. “So there’s some bravery involved there.”
Hanson made sure the actors were able to sing, and that they could be taught to dance.
“Joshua Robinson was the choreographer, and he just did not only choreograph the numbers,” Hanson said. “He was very aware of what the number is and knows what it needs for the characters to move the story forward. So his choreography tells the story.”
Hanson said Robinson’s challenge was working with actors who had different dancing skill levels.
“Some of them aren’t amazing dancers, which is exactly like their characters, and some of them are great dancers,” Hanson said. “So the challenge was to make the not-so-great dancers move well, and help the good dancers look like they aren’t too good. And I think Josh made them believable.”
The female characters, while not a big part of the original film, are important to the musical’s story, Hanson said.
“They are the spur that drives the men to become strippers,” he said. “When the men lose their jobs, the women become the breadwinners. And the men realize how much they love the women and how much they want to be the breadwinners again.”
One role, Jeannette, the men’s accompanist, isn’t present in the film, but plays an integral part in the musical.
“I kind of think of her as a fairy godmother to the men,” Hanson said. “She is always there supporting them and believing in them.”
Her character, portrayed by Camille van Wagoner, also required certain attributes.
“She has to be one of these bigger-than-life characters who has a heart of gold, and she had to connect with the characters,” Hanson said. “We’re lucky to have Camille, because she has great stage presence and her character really loves these men and wants them to do well.”
Hanson has enjoyed working with the cast and pushing through the challenges of directing such a complex play.
“There’s a scene where they find their old boss, Harold, at a dance class, and that scene has two (interactions) going on at once,” he said. “The guys try to convince Harold to be their dance teacher on one side of the stage, while Harold’s wife and other dance class members are on the other side of the stage participating in a dance class. So that was a trick to time that scene well.”
Timing is also crucial during some of the dance numbers.
“There’s one scene that has to be perfectly set up so that no one will be offended when the lights and curtain falls,” Hanson said with a laugh. “We didn’t want the audience to see more than they needed to.”
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