Evangel University theater teacher quits over stint in "The Full Monty"

Saturday, September 30, 2006

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- A theater instructor has resigned from Evangel University after the Protestant school objected to his performance in a local stage production of "The Full Monty," a comedy about unemployed British steel workers who form a striptease group.

Jeff Jenkins, a leading figure in the city's theater scene, said he stepped down as adjunct instructor at his alma mater after Evangel officials told him a brief seminude scene in the production at the Springfield Little Theatre violated its policies for staff and students.

Springfield's Evangel University, with about 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students, is affiliated with the Assemblies of God church.

The stage adaptation of the hit 1997 film "The Full Monty" includes one scene in which Jenkins and five other actors are costumed in underwear, mostly boxers. In the finale, the audience briefly sees bare behinds and a silhouette of what appears to be actors in the buff.

Citing policy, Evangel spokesman Paul Logsdon wouldn't comment specifically about Jenkins. However, he did say that performing in shows such as "The Full Monty" violates Evangel's personnel policy.

"There are just certain places, activities and forms of entertainment that we ask our students to abstain from, and the faculty and staff are held to the same standard," he said.

Jenkins said he left Evangel on amicable terms.

"I understand where they are coming from on some level," he said. "Obviously they have certain criteria they need met. I thought it was better that I resign than fight it out or make it a bigger deal than it was."

Jenkins graduated from Evangel with a degree in Drama and went on to found an improvisational theater company in Springfield, the Skinny Improv. He also runs a children's theater company.

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