Behind the scenes of Theater Wit’s ‘Full Monty’


Courtesy of David Rosenberg

Kokandy Productions’ take on the 1997 British film “The Full Monty” is more than a strip tease with relationships, body issues and financial struggles taking center stage.

By Katlyn Tolly

Darkness washed over the small theater as the crowd roared with excitement and anticipation.

“They may not be young, pretty or very good, but tonight and one night only they’re here, live and going for no less but the full Monty,” Jeanette Burmeister said. 

Kokandy Productions is presenting “The Full Monty” at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave., through April 12. The musical is about six unemployed steel-mill workers who turn to stripping to provide for their families.

In the midst of financial setbacks, Jerry Lukowski, played by Garrett Lutz, is fighting for custody of his 12-year-old son. Along with his best friend Dave Bukatinsky, played by Scott Danielson, Lukowski suggests a strip show performance as a short-term financial solution and recruits other men to participate in the group, which is led by sassy-mouthed Burmeister.

Lutz said he thought it was important that he had the creative flexibility to shape his character’s personality. When analyzing Lukowski, Lutz said he identified pieces of himself within his character that he could relate to.  

“I relate to Jerry because he is an imperfect person,” Lutz said. “Sometimes you make a mistake and it’s difficult to forgive yourself, but you never get anywhere without making a lot of mistakes.”

Danielson describes his character, Bukatinsky, as “a teddy bear of a guy” with self-esteem issues because he is overweight. Danielson said his character learns to overcome barriers and gain confidence.

“Everyone has issues with their own insecurities,” Danielson said. “It was kind of freeing to go through that as Dave. It helped me get over my own insecurities with my own body playing the character.” 

Throughout the musical, the performers clearly communicate to the audience that “The Full Monty” holds a deeper significance than just a strip show, but rather a lesson that involves hopefulness and finding positive alternative solutions during tough times, Lutz said.

“[The Full Monty] is about people fighting their inner demons,” Lutz said. “It’s about the hurdles they have to overcome and the problems they have with themselves.”

Scot Kokandy, executive producer and founder of Kokandy Productions, said the show was chosen during its season selection. He said he wanted to pick a lighthearted performance to diversify the company’s shows, making “The Full Monty” a perfect choice to add to the lineup. 

“[The Full Monty] is a show that has a little of everything,” Kokandy said. “It’s a show that’s going to make you laugh and cry. It might make you embarrassed or excited.” 

Kokandy Productions has received eight Jeff Nominations, an award that celebrates excellence in Chicago theaters, and won a 2014 Non-Equity Jeff Award, an award for outstanding professional theater productions that also include non-union work.

“[The Full Monty] is a show on self imagery,” Lutz said. “I want people to come to this show and see how no one should be ashamed of who they are. Every character in the show has someone who loves them or loves someone in return.”

Kokandy Production’s “The Full Monty” runs every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. through April 12 at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave. Tickets are $38 and  are also available for purchase online at