Jesus went looking for 12 good men; King Arthur filled his round table with numerous noble lords. Laid-off Buffalo steelworker Jerry Lukowski (Christopher Sutton) needs only a handful of ordinary guys willing to take off their clothes at a local strip joint to earn $50,000 and overcome their collective financial woes.
That’s the simple, silly premise of “The Full Monty,” and it works, thanks to the buoyant production at Capital Rep, under Maggie Mancinelli-Cahill’s puckish direction. Oh, and the book by Terrence McNally (based on Simon Beaufoy’s movie script) and the music/lyrics by David Yazbek also contain enough witty social commentary about gender, race, and social class to engage your brain as well as your funny bone.
There’s a lot of misery in the lives of these down-and-out upstate New Yorkers. Jerry is separated from Pam (Emily Matthews) and is fighting not to lose custody of Nathan (Keith Dubois). Best friend Dave Bukatinsky (Patrick John Moran) feels even more overweight and unattractive than usual when his wife, Georgie (Kimberly Doreen Burns), organizes her gal pals to see a male stripper (Christopher M. Howard).
Laid-off factory boss Harold Nichols (Kevin McGuire) can’t bear to tell his wife, Vicki (Lyn Philistine, hysterical in “Life with Harold”), that they’re running out of dough. And Malcolm (David J. Socolar), a closeted gay man living with his exacting mom (Sue Caputo), tries to gas himself before being rescued by Jerry and David.
When Jerry holds auditions for strippers, he uncovers — ahem! — the wannabes (like Reg, in a delightful pantomime by Fred Sirois) and the wieners — er, winners — hey, it’s that kind of show! Noah “Horse” T. Simmons (Reggie Whitehead, scoring big time in “Big Black Man”) and Ethan (Eddie Maldonado), dim and delightful, soon join the crew.
Overseeing rehearsals of this sextet of striving strippers is pianist Jeanette (Susann Fletcher), an old pro who has abandoned her Barcalounger for one more show biz gig. Fletcher — sparkling in a rainbow of wigs and Howard Tsvi Kaplan’s costumes — is the perfect wry den mother.
The multi-purpose set is by Scott Aronow. Praise be the efficient scene changers! Barry Steele’s lighting design provides its own kind of energy, complementing the cast’s fast footwork (choreography by Freddy Ramirez) and insistent beat of musical director/pianist Josh D. Smith and his tight band of four.
Back to Mancinelli-Cahill. In her curtain speech she said, “It’s a hard life, but I had to direct ‘The Full Monty.’ ” Yes, she twinkled. She and Stephanie Klapper have brilliantly cast the 21-member show.
Throughout, the actors deliver the pathos as well as the humor with stunning vocals. Maldonado and Socolar suspend time in “You Walk with Me,” as does Sutton (strong throughout) in “Breeze Off the River.” Ditto McGuire and Moran in “You Rule My World.”
Ensemble numbers? “It’s a Woman’s World” and “The Goods” are playful and provocative. And, finally, Yazbek gives the guys — and us — what we have been waiting for: a cheeky finale.
It’s a long-ish night, but the whole thing is so dang naughty and funny that you’ll barely notice the time.
There I go again.
‘The Full Monty’
WHERE: Capital Repertory Theatre, 111 N. Pearl St., Albany
WHEN: through Aug. 11
HOW MUCH: $62-$27
TICKETS: 518-445-7469, or capitalrep.org