StageWorks Fresno’s production of The Full Monty has a lot to offer: great music, terrific singing voices, cute choreography, and pelvic thrusts. But what is most important was a network of love that transcended the boundaries of gay, straight, male, female, performer, and audience member. Today I heard some very unfortunate news, that Linkin Park front man Chester Bennington had committed suicide. In my opinion he was one of the best male vocalists of my generation. I went into this show feeling a little down and out, and looking for something. I wasn’t sure what. I was like one of those emotional shoppers at the department store who was upset and unpredictable and not sure if I wanted flat front or pleated slacks. Only it wasn’t slacks I was looking for. It was a man. Yes, I was looking for love in all the right places.
They grabbed my attention right away with a Chippendale dancer with a winning smile. Thank you for the tasty hors d’oeuvres, I thought. But where’s the main course? It came as a two act 14 song musical that addressed themes of masculinity, insecurity, and ironically suicide. The suicidal character, who happened to be gay, was rescued from his car, that had a tube from the exhaust pipe coming through the window, by two straight best friends, Jerry and Dave, that he worked with. The first type of love we saw was unconditional. These two men showed him a type of friendship that would help him regardless if he was going to kill himself or choose to live. Finally having friends in his life, he chooses life over death. This was the character I fell in love with, Malcolm McGregor, played by Dominic Grijalva. Not only was he the best dancer and had strong vocal and acting technique. He was by all means the most excited of an extremely excited group of actors.
Notable were the songs performed by Jams Schott as Jerry Lukowski. His artistic choices in the form of jazzy vocal riffs really impressed me. Horse’s song was a fun and testosterone filled eclectic celebration that reminded me of many of the great black men that have been in my life. I try to leave my personal biases out of the shows I watch. However in this space, the Clovis North HS Dan Pessano Theater, and on this day July 20, 2017, it was impossible. With such an intimate show, The Full Monty, we are uplifted by the love we have between husband and wife, father and son, friends and lovers. And once again I renew myself by saying like Malcolm, I choose life! I hope you do too. So gay guys, grab your best straight, and head over to see the Full Monty.