Monday, 6 March 2017

The Full Monty, March 4, 2017 ***

Book by Terrence McNally, music by David Yazbek, produced by StageArt with The National Theatre, Melbourne 
National Theatre, St. Kilda, until March 19, 2017 
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Sat March 4, 2017 

Review also published on Mon March 6, 2017, in Herald Sun Arts online and later in print. KH

You’re a bunch of blokes who suddenly find yourselves unemployed, so why not try making a buck as male strippers – even if you don’t have a six-pack and a fake tan?

The Full Monty is back but, this time, it’s not the 1997 UK film set in the economically depressed city of Sheffield in the North of England, but the American musical adaptation (book by Terrence McNally, music by David Yazbek) that transports the six, unemployed steelworkers to Buffalo, New York.

Divorced dad, Jerry (Scott Mackenzie), is desperate to earn fast cash in order to provide for his son, Nathan (Alexander Glenk).

So, when Jerry and his mate, Dave (Giancarlo Salamanca), sneak a peek at their wives cheering and drooling over the glossy, but very camp, Chippendale male strippers, Jerry dreams up a one-night-only strip show featuring his lovable but talentless mates.

In addition to his plump pal, Dave, Jerry recruits four more amateurs including ‘big, black man’ Horse (Wem Etuknwa), nerdy mummy’s boy, Malcolm (Montgomery Wilson), their former, factory foreman Harold (Darren Mort) and Ethan (Adam Perryman), a newcomer who provides the ‘glitter’ when he takes off his strides.

Drew Downing’s production, with musical direction by Nathan Firmin and choreography by Rhys Velasquez, is a cheerful romp, although the pace is uneven with some slow cueing and scene changes and a few poorly timed sight gags.

Mackenzie is feisty and driven as Jerry, his bold singing doing justice to both the rock numbers and Jerry’s lament, Breeze Off The River, and he capably leads the men in the despairing but rocking chorus, Scrap, when they voice their anger at being scrapped by the steel mill.

The six are a bunch of misfits looking for meaning, respect and employment in their lives and they garner our sympathy as they face their fears and support each other through their journey to ‘the full monty’, when they strip to the skin.

The production really takes off when Etuknawa belts out the sassy Big Black Man, and Act One ends with the men dancing and singing to Michael Jordan’s Ball as their confidence grows.

Another highlight is Wilson and Perryman’s charming and soulful duet, You Walk With Me, and Barbara Hughes as the lads’ brassy, ageing piano accompanist, Jeanette, as she steals the stage singing Jeannette’s Showbiz Number.

The wives take subsidiary roles but their chorus of It’s A Woman’s World, led by Dave’s loving wife, Georgie (Sophie Weiss), characterises their feistiness.

Tazbek’s spirited music ranges from rocking choruses to ballads and laments but, despite Tazbek’s accomplished score, the show misses the recognition factor and pizazz of the movie’s musical selections that included hits such as Tom Jones’ You Can Leave Your Hat On, Hot Chocolate’s You Sexy Thing, and Donna Summer’s Hot Stuff.

This production may have its flaws but it is an entertaining and uplifting night in the theatre – although it may leave you with pangs of nostalgia for the original movie.

By Kate Herbert 

Creative Team
Drew Downing director
Nathan Firmin musical direction
Rhys Velasquez choreography

Jerry  - Scott Mackenzie
Dave - Giancarlo Salamanca
Noah Horse - Wem Etuknawa
Malcolm - Montgomery Wilson
Ethan - Adam Perryman
Harold - Darren Mort
Nathan - Alexander Glenk
Pam- Lauren Edwards
Vicki - Ana Mitsikas
Georgie - Sophie Weiss
Jeanette - Barbara Hughes
Estelle - Courtney Glass
Susan - Ashley Noble
Joanie - Anne Gasko

It’s a Woman’s World
Big-Ass Rock
Life With Harold
Big Black Man
You Rule My World
Michael Jordan’s Ball
Jeannette's Showbiz Number
Breeze Off the Rover
The Goods You Walk With Me
You Rule My World
Let it Go

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