Prepare yourself. When “The Full Monty” goes on tonight in the Power Center, there will be surprises – and no, not the partial nudity.
The surprise is that it’s only half the reason to go. The other half is what makes this musical production stand out. MUSKET has given itself a challenge this semester by taking on a show that is easily one of the most entertaining Broadway musicals of the last decade. If that doesn’t sound like a challenge, consider this: How do you take a play about six blue-collar tough-guydoing striptease and make it into something meaningful? Worse, how do you put together a production where six college guys can strip onstage without losing every ounce of credibility the show could have? Neither is easy, but MUSKET and director Alex Bisker are making it work.
MUSKET is entirely student run, from the stagehands to the producers, and it’s the combination of talent of those involved and the support from the University that makes the performance possible. Although MUKSET is open to any Michigan student, the majority of the actors are musical theatre majors, as is director Alex Bisker, a School of Music, Theatre and Dance junior working on her MFA in theatre with a concentration in directing. Although Bisker has been associate director for several past productions, this is her directorial debut for a musical production. She is palpably excited, and with good reason.
With only a few days to opening night, most directors are at a stage of pure panic, but she seems to have somehow avoided this.
“The guys have a ton of chemistry – I mean, you have to with this show. It’s been a tough process, but they’ve really gotten close,” Bisker said. “They’ve got a lot of guts to strip down to thongs in front of an audience at the Power Center.”
This show pulls no punches, as the name implies. It’s the biggest hurdle for the play, especially in a college cast: getting the actors to work well together wearing only a tiny piece of red cloth. And Bisker is not afraid to acknowledge this.
“Getting down to the thongs was a big step,” she said. “We had to work into it.”
But that’s where the power of “The Full Monty” really surfaces. It’s not just a comedy, a show about male strippers. Underneath the easy laughs, it’s a play about sacrifice and overcoming your inner boundaries.
“How much are you willing to sacrifice? That’s really what we’ve been trying to do with this production and throughout the entire process,” Bisker said. “It’s about getting to the point where you can just let it all go.”
It’s a challenge that the cast has faced on several counts – not just as a message for the production, but individually as actors.
“In a way it’s really surprising. The play is very much about the male body image, and the guys have definitely had to deal with that. I mean, these are Musical Theatre majors who are in great shape, and sometimes they feel bad about eating candy backstage because they know they’re going to be performing practically naked in front of the whole Power Center.”
Bisker’s easy confidence is catching. In all fairness, a college production of “The Full Monty” walks a fine line between disaster and success. It’s a complex play, a hugely comedic premise with serious, uncomfortable undertones. Still, MUSKET seems to have everything it takes to make this show a rousing success.
The Full Monty
Friday, Saturday 8 p.m.
Sunday 2 p.m.
The Power Center