Short North Stage's upcoming production proves the company is getting comfortable in its own skin. In particular, for some of the actors in SNS' "The Full Monty," not much else but their own skin.

Short North Stage's upcoming production proves the company is getting comfortable in its own skin.

In particular, for some of the actors in SNS' "The Full Monty," not much else but their own skin.

Yes, "The Full Monty" is, broadly, the story of a group of down-on-their-luck buddies who decide to stage a male strip act starring themselves.

"A little bit of trepidation but mostly excitement," actor Patrick Walters said when asked about performing the show's well-known end game. "As an actor, you pretty much know what you're getting into [with this show]."

What audiences are getting into is not merely the story of laid-off factory workers and their crazy idea to take their clothes off for money. Director Edward Carignan, SNS' artistic director, said the musical's storylines emphasize deeper themes.

"The journey of the show is [the men] learning to dance," Carignan said. "But it's a very human story about marriages, friendship, gentrification, job loss and gender roles."

"There's a good mix of comedy and drama," Walters said. "I'd expect everyone in the audience can relate to at least one of the characters."

Set in Rust Belt Buffalo, "The Full Monty" has as its underpinning the decline of blue-collar jobs amid the city's gentrification. Carignan said this is reflected both in the character arcs and also in the set design. He said he expects the theme will resonate with Columbus audiences - and Short North residents in particular.

"We're taking a wider perspective of a community that's struggling and how the characters react," he said.

He also pointed out that it's not just a buddy show; the group of woman characters is just as strong and significant as the men.

"We wanted to flesh out all of the characters, to see how these women are affected by their husbands and boyfriends losing their jobs and becoming the breadwinners," Carignan said.

In the end, Carignan said the strip tease is a fun and funny scene, but that it's also about the men's search for dignity.

"It's not just dudes trying to dance," Walters said, "but a group of guys working together on this thing they believe in."