The Full Monty

Date 3rd May 2018
Society City of Plymouth Theatre Company
Venue The Devonport Playhouse, Plymouth
Type of Production Musical
Director Nina Jarram
Musical Director Gary Hawkins
Choreographer Nina Jarram

Report

Author: Gareth Davies

Well, what can I say?! ‘The Full Monty’ requires six very brave and talented men to fill the roles of unemployed ex-steelworkers turned strippers and this production certainly found them.

The musical based on the film is set not in Sheffield, like the film, but in the USA.  This took a bit of getting used to, but I eventually adjusted.

Jerry Lukowski (played by the excellent Tony Outterside) has not only lost his job but his wife as well, and he is desperately fighting to keep contact with his son. His friend, Dave Bukatinsky (David Green) is suffering from very low self-esteem and the two men are devastated when they find their wives at a strip show. Jerry comes up with the moneymaking idea of forming a group of male strippers and they gradually encourage others to join them. Harold Nichols (Stuart Williams) joins reluctantly to assist with dance routines and help fund the needs of his much-loved wife. Malcolm Macgregor (Shah Rahman) finds friendship with the group and a partner in Ethan Girard (Drew Statton). Noah 'Horse' Simmons (Mylen Alazar) brings along new moves for the performance and between them the act takes off.

These six men worked really well together as a team and their singing and dancing moves were ideal for this production. They were all well cast in their roles and newcomer Mylen Alazar certainly made his mark – all six of the lead male roles were very good – but for me, David Green’s performance (comic and touching) stood out.

They were well supported by the ladies in the story with strong performances from Vicky Love as Harold's wife, Rachel Tyson as Jerry's wife, Carina Louiza Miles as Dave's wife and Rona Perry as the long-suffering piano player, Jeannette Burmeister, reminding me of Sophia Petrillo in The Golden Girls! This was the best performance I have seen from Rona for a long time. She is a great comic actress.

As Jerry’s young son, Nathan, Lewis Isaacs was very likeable and was clearly enjoying his involvement in this fun production.  

There were some excellent cameo performances and the ladies of the company who had to multi-role were very amusing. Their costumes were colourful, varied and good attention had been given to hairstyles and accessories. This was a fun homage to the 1980s.

The singing and dancing were strong throughout the show and the excellent band, conducted by Gary Hawkins, played sympathetically throughout, which enabled us to hear the words and supported some beautifully nuanced singing in the more tender pieces.

I really enjoyed Andy Martin’s set, easing from the factory, to the nightclub entrance, to Harold and Vicki’s posh lounge. It was all fun, imaginative and well executed, and I enjoyed watching it all being moved around and cleverly adjusted very efficiently. There was very good lighting throughout, especially for the final ‘moments’ of the show! On this occasion, I was grateful to be blinded for a second or two…

There was a great variety of costumes for there were a great variety of scenes – a girls’ night out, dancing lessons, housecoats at home, ladies in suspenders, smart work trouser suits, sloppy t-shirts and jeans, all sorts. However, of course the amazing ones were the ‘Hot Metal’ strippers’ costumes!  Never having previously enjoyed a ‘Chippendale’ type experience, I was fascinated by the way the various elements were stripped off – effortlessly (or sometimes not, which added greatly to the comedy!) And as for the mini red thongs – gentlemen!

Of course, this well-known story touches on many serious subjects – unemployment, fathers’ rights, depression, impotence, homosexuality, body image, working class culture and suicide. That was the power of the original film, to broach these through comedy, and I must say the musical, especially as performed here, carried this off just as well. I was genuinely moved by this performance. Good to see male issues being explored on the stage and doing so in such an accessibly way.  So many nuances, so many complex life issues, so much growth through adversity, this musical has much to offer a strong cast and its audience.

Praise must go to Nina Jarram, for taking on this challenging piece and bringing out all its nuances, its characterisation, its comedy, in such a complete way. This was a very well directed piece of theatre.

So there you are. Lots to write about when remembering this production. I would love to say more if I had the space. Wonderful direction and acting all round. This was a most enjoyable show and the audience loved it.

Thank you, once again, for your warm welcome to the Playhouse – it is always lovely to see Angela and I was especially pleased she was there this time, as I know she and her husband have not been in the best of health recently. I will look forward to ‘Applause Applause!’ in November and then to a classic, ‘The Sound of Music’ next May. Congratulations again to you all for your thirty-year anniversary at the Devonport Playhouse!