Based on the 1990s American hit movie, The Full Monty tells the story of unemployed steelworkers who decide to become male strippers to earn money, regain their fractured self-respect, and retrieve their family relationships.
This live stage version features a talented cast of more than 20, Sean Lee Hardy particularly strong as Jerry Lukowski, and a sensational live orchestra starring John Sutton on bass, and drummer Dan Priest.
Set in Buffalo, New York State, American accents are very accomplished, the location emphasising the gritty, honest working-class attitudes of people badly affected by 1980s unemployment and resulting poverty.
This is a pacy entertaining production with convincing costumes, creative and effective set designs (particularly the Gents toilets scene with its rousing vocal number It’s A Woman’s World), and brilliant lighting (especially in the dramatically controversial final revealing scene).
As a musical, there are many strong numbers, particularly the thought-provoking Scrap, and the show-stopping You Rule My World.
In what could be a dark depressing storyline there is nevertheless some sparkling humour, from the hilarious Nursing Home scene, to the bittersweet Funeral scene with its powerful ballad You Walk With Me revealing personal secrets, and the subtle would-be strippers’ dance moves.
Having an audience-within-the-audience prior to the final scene is an ingenious technique.
This explosive show contains very strong language and full frontal male nudity.
The feel-good Full Monty runs until Saturday with extra matinee performance on Saturday.
Whether BBLOC’s reputation had gone before them or whether it was the opportunity to see half a dozen men whipping off their clothes I know not, but a capacity audience at Wednesday night’s opening performance whooped and cheered their way through what proved to be a fantastic evening’s entertainment, performed in this company’s ever-excellent style.
Although the film version of the show was set in Sheffield, this Broadway musical version by Terrence McNally and David Yazbek has the setting as Buffalo, New York State, where a group of unemployed steel workers discover a new, if emotionally challenging, way of making the money they so desperately need if their lives and relationships are not to fall apart.
Thanks to the combined talents of the production team – Adam Myers (director), Ian Peters (musical director) and Heather Davis (choreographer) – plus a superb orchestra, excellent lighting effects, impressive props and costumes and some very swift scene changes, not to mention a first-class cast, this show has it all and simply cannot fail to send its audience out into the night with smiles on their faces.
I was mightily impressed by the six ‘strippers’ – Sean Lee Hardy (Jerry), Adam Myers (Dave), Rob Dorey (Harold), Adam Davis (Malcolm), John Bishop (Ethan) and Emmerson Featherstone (Horse) – but I feel I must qualify that remark by explaining that it was their singing, acting and movement that impressed so much, as each of those characters had a story to tell and each told it with a complete believability that tugged at the heart-strings. Just in case you were wondering, those aforementioned lighting effects ensured that I had no chance of being impressed by, or even clearly seeing, any of their, er, physical attributes, so leave the binoculars at home if you’re planning to go along!
It’s not all about the men, though, and there are lovely strong characterisations in other roles, too, most notably Oliver Payne (Jerry’s son, Nathan), Sally Wheeler (Harold’s wife, Vicki), Jenny Houston (Dave’s wife, Georgie), Laura-Jayne Hargrave (Jerry’s ex-wife, Pam) and Jane Kerfoot (pianist Jeanette, effortlessly stealing every scene in which she appeared).
Whilst this is not a show for the prudish – there is also a small amount of strong language as well as the ‘nudity’ – it is one that I would thoroughly recommend if you enjoy a heart-warming, humorous evening full of toe-tapping tunes.