The North American Tour of the marvelous new Broadway musical version of The Full Monty, which will play Raleigh Memorial Auditorium March 11-16 as part of Broadway Series South, asks a tough question in the present economic climate: If you are the family breadwinner and you lost your job — and prospects for finding a new one are slim and none — how far would you go to earn a living?

In the surprisingly successful 1997 British film comedy The Full Monty, written by Simon Beaufoy and directed by Peter Cattaneo, six out-of-work English steel workers — all ordinary Joes at the end of their financial ropes — do the unthinkable. They agree grin and bare it all — in this case, “the full Monty” means total nudity — in a male striptease act to be performed on Ladies’ Night in local pubs in Sheffield, England, and vicinity.

Although no one would ever mistake them for the Chippendales — because they lack the carefully chiseled physiques and the jaw-dropping sexually suggestive dance moves — these bold lads gyrating to the sounds of Gary Glitter, Hot Chocolate, Tom Jones, Sister Sledge, and Donna Summer become an overnight sensation. Their humdrum lives will never be the same!

Nominated for four 1998 Academy Awards — including Best Picture (producer Uberto Pasolini), Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay — The Full Monty won the Oscar for Best Music, Original Musical or Comedy Score (Anne Dudley). Broadway took notice and a new musical version of The Full Monty, with book by celebrated American playwright and four-time Tony® Award winner Terrence McNally (Love! Valor! Compassion!) and music and lyrics by Broadway newcomer David Yazbek, premiered at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego, CA, on June 1, 2000, and opened at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre in New York City on October 26, 2000.

The Full Monty earned 10 Tony® Award nominations, including those for Best Musical, Best Director (Jack O’Brien), Best Choreography (Jerry Mitchell), Best Original Score, Best Orchestrations, and Best Book. The show opened at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London on March 20, 2002. The Full Monty closed on Broadway on Sept. 1, 2002.

“The show is about friendship, about being a parent,” said Terrence McNally in preshow publicity. “It’s also about an image-obsessed society that says you have to look like Brad Pitt. This show says quite the opposite. It celebrates everybody for exactly who they are.”

In the pressbook, composer and lyricist David Yazbek, who won a 2001 Drama Desk Award for his music for The Full Monty, claimed: “The Full Monty is a sports story. It’s not about stripping. It’s a bunch of guys who get together and form a team. There are ups and downs; and, in the end, they win.”

A hit on both sides of the Atlantic, the Broadway and West End version of The Full Monty transposes the story to Buffalo, New York. Again, a group of plucky unemployed steelworkers chooses to bare all rather than scrape by on unemployment compensation.

Kevin McCollum, Jeffrey Seller, and Albert Nocciolino will serve as producers the current North American Tour of The Full Monty, which is directed by Jack O’Brien and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell. The touring version of the show boasts sets by John Arnone, costumes by Robert Morgan, lighting by Howell Binkley, and sound design by Tom Clark and Nevin Steinberg.

The New York, Los Angeles, and London productions of The Full Monty opened to rave reviews. “This hearty adaptation of the popular film opened in a blaze of pure mass appeal…. The Full Monty is that rare crowd-pleaser that you don’t have to apologize for liking,” wrote Ben Brantley in The New York Times. And Jason Zinoman of Time Out New York called the show “Exuberantly hip and thoroughly entertaining…. Here is a new musical comedy that is actually funny.”

Jay Reiner of The Hollywood Reporter saluted the show as “One of the most exhilarating musical comedy treats to be seen in years. David Yazbek’s witty songs have an edgy, hip quality. Jerry Mitchell’s dance numbers are fresh and alive with energy and high spirits. And McNally’s book is a comic gem. The show has so many highlights and show stoppers, one losses count.”

In The Times of London, Edward Karam reported: “The Full Monty is a long-awaited antidote to Broadway’s grim, arid musicals: a genuine musical comedy. Its warmth and fun show that a Broadway musical can still be synonymous with elation.”

Broadway Series South presents The Full Monty Tuesday-Friday, March 11-14, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, March 15, at 2 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, March 16, at 2 and 7 p.m. in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the BTI Center for the Performing Arts, 1 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina. $16-$66. 919/834-4000 or [inactive 12/03]. Groups of 20+: 919/231-4575 or [inactive 4/04] or [inactive 7/03]. Official movie site: [inactive 9/03].