Monday, 26 September 2016

The Full Monty"
Nottingham Theatre Royal.
I love a good old feel good play which includes, suicide attempts, impotence,despair, unemployment and marriage breakdowns and underdogs who, like a good topping of cream, always rises to the top. Throw in a big dose of realism and life, a wonderful balance of sadness and humour and a very cute 12 year old and you have a brilliant night out at the theatre. And I haven't even mentioned six very brave actors willing to get their kit off on stage for a baying audience predominantly of women.
The once-successful steel mills of Sheffield, have shut down and most of the employees have been laid off. Gaz and Dave are trying to make ends meet, with a bit of help from Gaz's son, Nathan, by "liberating" a big steel girder for scrap money, mainly so that Gaz can pay his child support. That fails and while Gaz and Dave are outside their local working men's club, Gaz sees a poster for The Chippendales, who are performing inside the club.
When he learns how much money can be made by taking his clothes off in front of a crowd of women, he sees an answer to all of his monetary worries as well as a lifeline to seeing Nathan and paying his child support, He ropes in some his old work mates as well as holding auditions for other male strippers which results in "Horse" and Guy. One has an unfair advantage over the others and the other........well, you can probably guess!
The six bond and go through a few close shaves while rehearsing , as well as discovering some secrets about each other, but in the end it all comes to a head with a standing ovation.
The play starts a bit different than the other versions I've seen with the voice of the Prime Minister of the 80's, Mrs Thatcher which straight away sets the scene for the despondency and lack of hope in the economical downturn for the workers. A nice touch from director Jack Ryder, who you may remember from Eastenders fame, but now a very successful director. Here's something that you may not know about Jack, his dad is Jack Hues, lead singer of 80's band Wang Chung, and their "Dance Hall Days" track is played in the play.
Gary Lucy (Gaz) revisits his role and is as cheeky as ever and very clear that he is a crowd pleaser with the ladies, even with his clothes on. Even more by the end of the play as he playfully flashes his backside as he leaves the stage.
Andrew Dunn (Gerald), who you'll know from "Dinnerladies" again revisits his role with great dryness, but with that little twinkle in his eye.
Louis Emerick (Horse) is another actor who is back in the saddle as he also has played the role the last time it came to town. The crowd loved his moves. This horse could pony alright! 
Chris Fountain (Guy) was tempted out of the wilderness by Gary Lucy to play this role and after much deliberation from Chris took the role and headed straight for the gym to make sure his role looked as buff as possible. It's good to see a young actor like Chris given the chance like this after, in my opinion, being tossed aside by TV. Chris is almost unrecognisable with his cropped hair and his weight loss, but a great performer and I hope that this role sees him being offered more theatre work because he is a really likeable and talented actor.
Anthony Lewis (Lomper) starts his role at rock bottom but shows that if life hands you lemons, make lemonade. Lomper's confidence grows and he gets a few friends into the bargain as well. A really good life assuring character, played with sensitivity by Anthony.
Kai Owen (Dave) is the overweight one, but you know what, he had the audience in his hand and immediately won them over with his everyday worries and issues and especially with his wife, Jean, played by Fiona Skinner, who stood by him all the way, insecurities and all. And what a brilliant part Fiona plays, great fun to watch.
Charlotte Powell (Mandy) is Gaz's desperate ex wife, who you can tell still has a bit of a soft spot for him, but has to lay down the CSA law where Nathan is concerned. talking of whom...
There are four young actors playing Nathan on tour and I saw an incredibly talented young man called Felix Yates. Felix, from Sheffield, has amazing stage presence and a great naturalness about him and a wide range of emotions to offer. Then again he's been acting since he was three years old and has a very credible list of credits to his pre-teen stage and TV CV. Monday night was only his third time in this role.
With a set, designed by Robert Jones, that evolves from one scene to another just by a few sliding doors, creating simple but effective changes and great fluidity to the play.
The music from the film's there as well, Hot Chocolate "You Sexy Thing", Irene Cara's "Flashdance", James Brown "I Feel Good" and of course, the iconic Job Centre scene to Donna Summer's "Hot Stuff". Choreography by Ian West, who I'm sure a lot of ladies would like to thank for the finale "You Can Leave Your Hat On". One man these actors do not want to upset would be the lighting man with the final scene! The whole show is produced by David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers, who between them have a whole history of theatrical successes in their wake. this is just another great production to add to their list.
You know what, if you don't leave this show with a broad grin on your face, male or female, there's something wrong with you.The Full Monty is just a brilliant "human" story played with great humour by a bunch of talented actors who have a whole history of TV, stage and radio experience behind them who also look like they are having the time of their lives on stage.
"The Full Monty" is on show at the Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 1 October 2016, and you won't need your binoculars ladies to spot the talent. Go on, you know you want to!

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