THE FULL MONTY
Director :John Wood
Musical Director: Paul Firth
Choreography: Jane Wood
By now, most people will have seen the 1997 low-budget film which, to many people’s surprise, became an instant box-office hit. The critics were mostly agreed about it, but it was the Great British Public which made it such a success. In 2000 the Americanised, Tony nominated musical version opened. Now set in Buffalo it is still about six out-of-work steel workers. The humour and pathos, as in the original concept, comes through each male character’s low self-esteem.
The direction captured the gritty, raucous and rebellious underbelly of the show and the acting could not have been bettered, This production was not just titillating light entertainment. The choreography was in keeping with the principle ethos of the piece and it was believably executed. Musically the score tied in with the plot, with the M.D getting everything possible from the score: the cast and orchestra delivered the goods.
Immediately from the start, the right atmosphere has to be produced. Mossley’s award winning set designer and society construction team created just that. Usually for this musical a static set, with inserts, is the usual presentation. However, for this production choreographed sliding flats and truck modules gave the story more credibility. The lighting design sympathetically generated another layer to the atmospheric storytelling, and the sound balance lifted the musical content.
The main story line is about Jerry, who is desperate to save his relationship with his son. He embarks on getting his friends on board to form a “Chippendale” style one-off strip show. This comes about after seeing the local ladies’ response to striper, Keno (Paul Hodkinson). The ladies’ ensemble. and the respective wives, were galvanised and spirited. All the supporting roles contributed greatly to the show’s intent.
Playing Jerry’s chubby best mate, Dave, was Ian Bennett playing alongside Felicity Pretsell as his wife, Georgie. Their emotionally strained relationship was both sad and funny, and they were very watchable. As Dave attempts to get fit jogging with Jerry, they rescue closet-gay loser, Malcolm, from committing suicide. They persuaded him to join their stripping sextet. Ben Drane was everything Malcolm should be, displaying his shyness and then eventually finding confidence, friendship and being at ease with coming out. Malcolm’s eventual partner was Ethan who was desperate to recreate Donald O’Connor’s wall-tumble. Liam Bunka received lots of laughs as Ethan; his chemistry with Malcolm was very entertaining. To teach the “would be” strippers a routine, they engaged their unemployed works manager, Harold. Rob Haslam, as Harold, frustratingly takes the group hip-thrust by hip-thrust through a gyrating routine which resulted in entertaining comic moments. Auditions were held to find the remainder of the troupe necessary for their on-stage routine. The boy’s pianist, Jeanette, was enthusiastically played by Elaine Thomson. The final member of the strip-troupe was Noah “Horse” Simmons - who does not live up to his name!. Nigel Dias was splendid as the arthritic hipped, “Horse”.
Likely-lad Jerry will do anything to keep seeing his son Nathan. The changing dynamics between proud dad and son have to be well handled. Adding to the dramatic emotions was Jerry’s former wife, Pam. Samuel Maurice, as Jerry, Max Fletcher, as Nathan and Claire Edgerton, as Pam, captured the bleak emotional heart of family discord.
The ladies, friends and townspeople filled the club for the one-off “full Monty strip”. The awaited reveal was tastefully performed. “Hats Off” to the company for an entertaining evening that combined pathos and comedy.