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The Full Monty Review 2002

NOTE : There has been a change of cast since this review

Based on the British film of the same name, this hit Broadway show The Full Monty, is fun theatre that will bring coach loads of women to the Prince of Wales Theatre for a fabulous evenings entertainment.

The film version was set in Sheffield, but this stage version is now set in Buffalo, a steel town in New York. But this does not matter as the show, unlike the movie, is not a dark sociological drama and thus the gritty Yorkshire characterisations are not crucial for the story to work.

The story concerns six unemployed men who form a male strip act to help restore their confidence and earn some desperately needed money. However, they don’t have great bodies and they are not drop dead gorgeous. Their gimmick is that they will show 'the full monty,' i.e., they will strip completely naked for their one performance.

This desperate attempt to earn some ‘easy’ cash so as to make ends meet, soon becomes a lesson in friendship, love, loyalty and simple good old-fashioned decency. Jerry needs to earn the money so as to pay maintenance to continue sharing custody of his son with his ex-wife. What he fears most is not only losing custody, but losing his son’s respect. Dave, who is over-weight, has lost all confidence now he is unemployed and does not believe his wife to still loves him. Harold, who can no longer buy his wife beautiful objects thinks he will lose her and so conceals his unemployment from her. Yet, despite all these obstacles, they discover that self-worth comes from having love and respect, and not from having a job!!

Original Broadway cast members Jason Danieley (Malcolm), Andre De Shields (Horse), John Ellison Conlee (Dave), Romain Fruge (Ethan) and Marcus Neville (Harold) re-create the roles they originated in New York, with Jarrod Emick (Jerry) making up the six strippers and all ‘perform’ brilliantly in their own unique way. However, it is the lovable Dora Bryan, now in her late 70s, who steals the show as the wacky rehearsal pianist.

The music and lyrics by David Yazbek is original and witty, and works well with the show, but is not memorable, except for the song ‘Big Black Man’ which is delightfully performed by Andre De Shields. The book by Terrence McNally is simple, but effective. However, it is a little over sentimental at times.

The show has received good notices from most of the popular press: BENEDICT NIGHTINGALE FOR THE TIMES SAYS, “The plain truth is that The Full Monty is as enjoyable a musical as London now offers.” CHARLES SPENCER for DAILY TELEGRAPH says, “The Full Monty is a wonderfully welcome reminder of the sheer pleasure of musical comedy at its best.” MICHAEL BILLINGTON for THE GUARDIAN was not overly impressed saying, “A campy, synthetic, showbiz affair………a musical that has all the mechanical efficiency one expects of a Broadway musical but little authentic feeling.” PAUL TAYLOR for THE INDEPENDENT says, “Hats (and the rest) off for a fired-up, feel-fabulous show.” NICHOLAS DE JONGH for THE EVENING STANDARD says, “Even though David Yazbek's medium-hard rock music leave few memories, The Fully Monty remains a beautifully acted evening of subversive pleasure.” MICHAEL COVENEY for THE DAILY MAIL says, "This is a terrific new musical."

Lasting nearly 3 hours with an interval, The Full Monty is a great party show and the good news is that they do seem to do the ‘full monty’ but with such clever lighting you are unlikely to notice!!

(Darren Dalglish)

External links to full reviews from newspapers...

Daily Telegraph
The Guardian
The Independent

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