The Portland Players put on “The Full Monty.” Photo by Kristen Peters

Sometimes it is necessary to move outside our comfort zone to effect real change. In the latest production from The Portland Players, a group of men go way outside of theirs.

Based on a 1997 British film but set in Buffalo, New York, in the 1980s, the Terrence McNally/David Yazbek musical version of “The Full Monty” visits some down and out but highly likeable everyday guys who have lost their jobs and a good deal of their dignity, as they see it.

Under the direction of Michael Donovan, a talented group of mostly community theater performers appropriately enough tell the story of how a community comes together through putting on a performance. The fun, of course, is in how they, at first reluctantly, decide to express themselves.

Inspired by their spouse’s response to a performance by a male stripper show, the guys gather, under the leadership of unemployed and child support-owing Jerry (Lucas Perry). Haunted by his still-caring ex Pam (Jess Libby) and loving son Nathan (Carter Simpson), Jerry plans to set up a one-night-only gig where he and his friends will prove they still have some life left in them while along the way showing quite a bit of their bodies to an audience.

The show toggles between comedic episodes where the guys attempt to cast off their modesty and more serious moments when they reveal what’s really holding them back.

Among the men, Jerry’s friend Dave (Ryan Lane), a good-natured lug, must overcome his own insecurities while facing off with his feisty spouse Georgie (Alexandra Magnaud). Timid Malcolm (Tommy Waltz) must work his way out of his shell.


Goofy Ethan (Stanley Kimball) must try to stay focused while stodgy Harold (Alex Pratt) worries he might lose his Vicki (Amy Torrey). Finally, Noah aka “Horse” (Thomas Smallwood) has the dance moves already down but maybe not the courage to go all the way to the full monty – total nudity, on stage.

With musical direction by Evan Cuddy and choreography by Tess McLaughlin, there is a wealth, if not almost an overabundance of good numbers, well performed, in the two-and-a-half-hour show. Elements of folk, funk, rock and plain old musical comedy seamlessly pop up.

Waltz and Kimball found courage together on “You Walk with Me.” Nancy Durgin, as the guys’ onstage manager, brought the crowd at the venerable South Portland theater to life after intermission with an all-knowing “Jeannette’s Showbiz Number.” Perry followed with a quietly resonant “Breeze Off the River,” and the ensemble convinced in their chorus of “Let it Go.”

Lindsay Braverman, Chelsea Miller, Whitney Brown and Steve Riley were also among those who stood out in a tuneful and touching show about knowing when to shed what’s not important and hold on to those you love.

Steve Feeney is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.

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