Full Synopsis

Full Synopsis

Act One

Present day. Buffalo, New York. The recession has hit, and many of the men in the community have been laid off from their jobs at the steel factory. The women of the city, many of whom are supporting their husbands at this time, seek entertainment and they find it onstage at Tony Giordano's club. It's Girls' Night Out and the feature attraction onstage is Buddy "Keno" Walsh – a male stripper who is the personification of male physical perfection and who makes a wad of cash for showing it off. While the women are having a night out, the guys are at the union meeting house to pick up their weekly unemployment checks. Their discontent is beginning to show, and Jerry Lukowski commiserates with his best friend, the hopelessly overweight Dave Bukatinsky. They are joined by the somewhat simple-minded, but good-hearted Ethan Girard and the sweet Malcolm MacGregor, who lives alone with his infirm mother. All of the men are depressed and defeated by their unemployment, their loss of identity and their inability to provide for themselves and their families ("Scrap").

After the meeting, Jerry, who shares custody of his twelve-year-old son, Nathan, takes him to the bus so that he can go back to his mother. Nathan is encouraging about Jerry getting a job, but Jerry explains that he is waiting for the right situation – he doesn't want to bus tables. Nathan tells Jerry that he loves him and leaves.

In the meantime, Dave has been admiring the pictures of Keno that are outside of the club. Jerry says that they could look like that if they wanted, but they don't... because they're real guys. When they overhear two women excitedly going into the club, Jerry asks the women what the strippers have that he doesn't have – their answer is: everything. When Jerry finds out that Dave's wife, Georgie, is in the club, watching, he insists that Dave go into the club and bring her out; even though he doesn't have a job, he still needs to assert himself as a man. Dave says that he can't – he has to go home and do the dishes. At Jerry's urging, they sneak in through the window of the men's room. Georgie and three friends enter the men's room; Jerry and Dave take refuge in any empty stall while Georgie and her friends celebrate their power ("It's a Woman's World"). Jerry's ex-wife, Pam, joins the three women, and Jerry and Dave overhear revelations about one other from the women. The women leave, and Jerry and Dave soon find themselves confronted by Keno in a G-string, making a quick-change into a cowboy outfit. Keno mistakes Jerry for a new dancer for the evening, and Jerry acidly proclaims his heterosexuality. Keno bitchily dismisses him, and, after Jerry takes a swing at Keno and misses, the stripper slugs him hard. Dave apologizes, explaining that they've been out of work for 18 months and are at the end of their rope. Keno understands; his brother left Albany for the same reason. After Keno leaves, Jerry begins brainstorming. Keno mistook him for a stripper; if he and Dave were to strip, they could clean up. Dave needs to be convinced, so Jerry does his best ("Man").

The next day, Pam serves Jerry with papers that threaten to take Nathan away because Jerry owes child support. Pam is now living in a nice neighborhood with a more stable man, Teddy Slaughter, who has asked to marry her. Pam tells Jerry that he should take any kind of job that he can get and start to grow up. After an unpleasant confrontation with Teddy, Jerry leaves, more determined than ever to make his stripping plan work. Jerry and Dave are jogging when they come upon Malcolm, who is attempting suicide by asphyxiation. They save him and offer him, first, alternative ways to commit suicide, and, then, help ("Big Ass Rock"). Jerry invites Malcolm to join him in stripping and, since Malcolm has a part-time job as the night security guard at the abandoned steel plant, they now also have a place to rehearse.

Later, Jerry engages Nathan to find them a dance teacher, and Nathan takes them to a dance school, where they meet their old boss, Harold Nichols, and his wife, Vicki. They're brushing up on their cha-cha for a trip to Puerto Rico. Harold hasn't yet told Vicki that he has been out of work for the past six months and, through desperation and the hint of blackmail, Harold agrees to become the guys' choreographer. Before he can agree to that, Vicki comes over and sings his praises ("Life with Harold"). In the wake of her explaining her love for him, Harold agrees to help out... for the money and because he can't bear to let Vicki down. 

Now at auditions, it is not going well. Still, their showbiz-savvy accompanist, Jeanette Burmeister, tells them that they'll know when the right guys shows up. Enter Horse, a gnarled, depressing and seemingly arthritic 50-year-old man who seems to fulfill a certain kind of fantasy ("Big Black Man"). Later, the good-natured Ethan shows up and openly proclaims that he can't dance or sing, but that he has something to offer. He drops his pants and it's clear what he means.

That night, while Georgie sleeps, Dave confronts his body image. At the same time, Harold reflects on his adoration of Vicki ("You Rule My World").

At their first rehearsal the following day, Harold is having a rough time getting the guys to do anything together. While Horse is off in the corner rehearsing the funky chicken, Ethan and Malcolm bond over a shared affection for the film, The Sound of Music. However, when Harold compares choreography to basketball, Jerry picks up on an idea, and suddenly their moves become teamwork ("Michael Jordan's Ball").

Act Two

At rehearsal a week later, the mistress of understatement, Jeanette, acknowledges that things could be better... and she should know, given the things that she's seen in her career ("Jeanette's Showbiz Number"). In order to perform at Tony Giordano's club, Jerry needs to come up with $1,000 as a deposit. He tries to get it from Pam, but she'll have none of it. Nathan, however, has money from his college savings account and gives it to Jerry. Jerry watches his son sleep and is moved by the love that he feels ("Breeze off the River").

Elsewhere, Harold persuades Vicki to leave the house so that they can hold a rehearsal there. Jerry has given their group a name: Hot Metal. This is the day that the guys are going to take off all of their clothes in front of each other for the first time. They are fraught with anxiety. When they are hypercritical of the sexy women in a Victoria's Secret catalog, they realize that their audience might be just as critical of them ("The Goods").

Nathan has gathered a small audience from a nearby nursing home for the final dress rehearsal at the steel plant but, as they are taking off their first layer of clothing, the police raid the show. In the confusion that follows, Malcolm and Ethan successfully escape to Malcolm's home, where their attraction to one another is almost acknowledged, until Malcolm realizes that something is wrong with his mother. Pam and Teddy arrive at the police station to pick up Nathan, and it's very clear to everyone that, even if Jerry were to come up with the child support money, he wouldn't be able to share custody of Nathan.

At his mother's funeral, much to the surprise of Jerry and Dave and a few other mourners, Malcolm expresses his loneliness and longing and finds that both will be ended by the warm heart and hand of Ethan ("You Walk with Me"). It turns out that the show isn't exactly selling well. The women don't know why they should pay money to see amateurs when they just had the real thing with Keno. Jerry explains that their act is different because they go all the way – they do the Full Monty. This gets the women's attention, and tickets start selling.

Dave, meanwhile, takes a job at Wal-Mart and tells Jerry that he won't be performing in the show. Jerry feels betrayed. When Dave gets home, Georgie confronts him, thinking that he has been cheating – she has found his stripping costume. Embarassed, he confesses what he had been up to with the guys; she is relieved and supports him. She reaffirms her love for him, and he for her. At the same time, when Vicki finds out that Harold has been out of work, she reminds him that she loves him for himself, not for what he can buy her ("You Rule My World – Reprise"). 

It's the night of the show. Backstage at Tony Giordano's club, nervousness runs high. Jeannette wishes all of the guys good luck, and Vicki reveals that Harold has gotten a job but, despite no longer needing the money, he is going through with the experience. Even Keno shows up to see if the guys will really go all the way.

Before they take their places, Jerry decides that, since Dave chickened out, he also isn't going to do the show. But then Dave shows up, and Jerry no longer has an excuse not to go through with it, except his old refrain – he's a failure. The rest of the guys are going to do the show but, without Jerry, they won't do the Full Monty. They take their places onstage and the number begins. Backstage, Nathan confronts Jerry about why he isn't out there with the rest of the guys. He tells Jerry not be what everyone thinks he is – a loser. Jerry realizes that this is a real opportunity to show the people who love him that he can follow through and not be afraid of his dreams and the responsibilities that they bring. He joins his friends on stage midway through the number and, by the end of the show, we know that The Full Monty isn't just about showing off the outside, it's about what all of us have in the inside ("Let It Go").