The cast of “The Full Monty” in rehearsal. Courtesy photo

Umbrella’s ‘The Full Monty’ offers a toe-tapping tale of friendship

By Laurie O’Neill Correspondent

Most people remember only one thing about the movie “The Full Monty.” 

But the play based on the cult hit of the same name is more than a show about men stripping. It’s about overcoming challenges and learning how to accept yourself for who you are. 

The musical, written by Tony Award winners Terrence McNally (“Ragtime”) and David Yazbek (“The Band’s Visit”), is The Umbrella Arts Center’s 2023-24 season closer this month. 

“We wanted to end the season on a joyful note, and ‘The Full Monty’ delivers big on heart and humor,” said Brian Boruta, producing artistic director. Boruta said he is “thrilled” to be partnering with [Director] Leigh Barrett for the first time, along with “a stellar design team and incredible cast.” 

This is Boruta’s 48th production with The Umbrella and 43rd as director of Performing Arts. He has earned several Best Production nominations and DASH awards for Best Play (“True West” and “To Kill A Mockingbird”) and Best Musical (“Parade” and “Big Fish”).

DASH — Distinguished Achievement and Special Honors — awards are given by the Eastern Massachusetts Association of Community Theatres at the end of each season.

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Barrett is a Boston-based actor, singer, and director who has worked with companies throughout New England, including The Lyric Stage, The New Repertory, and the North Shore Music Center. She lives in Reading. Barrett won the 2018 Elliot Norton Prize for Sustained Excellence, presented by the Boston Theater Critics Association. 

“I’m thrilled to be in this beautiful space with these lovely humans sharing this story of friendship and vulnerability,” said Barrett. 

Though the Umbrella had been mounting productions for many years, its new, state-of-the-art facility made its debut five years ago. 

Offering a mix of snappy dialogue, engaging melodies, and “toe-tapping pizazz,” the musical is a heartwarming story about the importance of friendship in the face of adversity.  

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It is set in an economically depressed Buffalo in 1989. It revolves around six unemployed steel workers struggling to pay their mortgages, provide for their families, and regain their sense of pride. They decide to form a troupe of male strippers called “Hot Metal.” 

Several Boston-area actors appear in the cast, including Aimee Doherty, Will McGarrahan, and Shonna McEachern. 

The musical is rated R due to strong language, adult themes, and brief nudity. Aging, body shaming, racial and class stereotypes, and suicide are among the serious topics covered. The Umbrella encourages people to use their judgment about attendance. 

“The Full Monty” runs through May 19, with performances Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 3 p.m. Tickets are $20-$55 with discounts for students and seniors. For details, visit The Umbrella, at 40 Stow Street, is fully accessible and has assistive listening devices available by request.