Diverse and with plenty of gay subtlety, it offers the full R-rated monty
By David Dixon
Since being a faculty member at San Diego State, Stephen Brotebeck has directed several acclaimed productions, including highly successful interpretations of “The Drowsy Chaperone” and “Jesus Christ Superstar in Concert.”
His next show will be the Broadway adaptation of “The Full Monty,” which he not only directs, but will also act as choreographer for the fun and salty play.
Before coming to San Diego, Brotebeck was known for his accomplishments on the Great White Way. He worked on “Peter and the Starcatcher” as a movement associate, and was an assistant director on “Ghost: The Musical.”
For the most part, Brotebeck felt like he easily got into the swing of things when working at SDSU.
“I’ve always gone back and forth between the academic world and professional world,” he said. “I thrive on being busy.”
Brotebeck has wanted to direct “The Full Monty” for a long time. However, owing to the nudity in the story, it isn’t an easy sell on many campuses. In this version, as the main cast consists of graduate students, he doesn’t have to worry about the risqué content in the R-rated evening.
Another plus of having grad students as the main characters is that they can aid the undergrad triple threats. Brotebeck feels this will add to the quality of his take on the material.
Although he said he watched the original movie years ago, Brotebeck had never seen “The Full Monty” onstage. He said he became a fan after listening to the original cast recording and reading the script by Terrence McNally and songwriter, David Yazbek.
Ironically, the hit adaptation of the film premiered in San Diego in 2000 at The Old Globe. As Brotebeck notes, plenty of New York hits have started in America’s Finest City.
“I kind of feel that all roads to Broadway lead through San Diego,” he said.
Outside of his involvement at SDSU, Brotebeck is starting to learn more about the San Diego’s LGBT community.
“I’ve been able to be introduced to people who are influential and am learning more about the different organizations that are out there,” he said.
In rehearsals, Broteback gave the ensemble plenty of advice to help them make the roles their own. One performer who learned a lot from him is Leo Yu-Ning Chang, who portrays foreman turned choreographer, Harold Nichols.
“I’m not from the United States and English isn’t my first language,” Chang said. “Brotebeck told me to just be myself and not worry about using an American accent.”
Another major player, Vinh Nguyen, respects Brotebeck’s decision to feature a more diverse cast than what is traditionally expected from “The Full Monty.” Nguyen is featured as the depressed mama’s boy, Malcom MacGregor.
“Neither the roles that Chang or I depict are traditionally performed by Asian artists,” he said. “I’m glad that’s happening here.”
After the run of “The Full Monty,” Brotebeck is scheduled to direct regional renditions of the tales he previously worked on, “Peter and the Starcatcher” and “Ghost.” In addition, he’ll direct/choreograph the Kander and Ebb revue, “And the World Goes ’Round.”
While he is working on plenty of theatrical events, Brotebeck hopes to direct a professional San Diego musical sometime in the not too distant future.
At SDSU, he will continue working with the MFA students. In December, he helped helm the premiere of a stage adaptation of “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” written by BD Wong and composed by Wayne Barker.
Brotebeck said he can’t wait to present “The Full Monty,” which features a cast of 21, including undergrads, grad students and two guest artists. SDSU is lucky to have such a highly respected storyteller.
—David Dixon is a freelance film and theater writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.