Jobless rate reinforces show choice: Musical takes a poignant, funny look at the desperation of unemployment.

October 11, 2009.By Graydon Royce, Star Tribune.

With news in the past year that unemployment among Minnesota men is twice that of women, Peter Rothstein decided it was time. Time to remind people of the lengths some men will go to in order to put meat on the table. Rothstein’s production of “The Full Monty” opens Theatre Latté Da’s 12th season this Friday.

In the Broadway musical, unemployed steelworkers in Buffalo, NY, set their egos – and their britches – aside to scare up a few bucks at a local club. It was based on a 1997 British film that became a surprise smash hit. A national tour stopped at the Ordway Center in 2003. Coincidentally, the Latté Da production is in the McKnight Theatre at the Ordway.

“I had wanted to do it since I saw it on Broadway [in 1999],” Rothstein said. “Then last winter I was looking at the unemployment statistics for men, and I felt like this strikes a deeper chord than it did 10 years ago.”

Even though “The Full Monty” has become a slang equivalent for naked openness, neither the film nor the musical made its mark with beefcake. The story’s strength lies in the bond among six buddies down on their luck, and in the sometimes contentious relationships they have with bosses, parents, children and neighbors.

“It’s a rich canvas for the way people respond to economic crisis,” Rothstein said.

This is Latté Da’s biggest solo production to date (“Parade” was co-produced with Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company in 2008). Rothstein has cast Joshua James Campbell played Joe Kennedy in the Ordway/Park Square production of “Grey Gardens” last spring. He also has done national tours of “Mamma Mia” and “Legally Blonde.” Curtis has worked at nearly every theater in the Twin Cities. The venerable Wendy Lehr plays the pianist who accompanies the lads. Randy Schmeling, a Latté Da regular, and Reggie Phoenix, a Twin Cities newcomer who sang in the original “Dream Girls” on Broadway and did the first national tour of “A Chorus Line,” are also featured.