The Full Monty

Date 13th March 2020
Society Trinity Amateur Operatic Society
Venue The Daneside Theatre, Congleton
Type of Production Musical
Director Liz Cardall
Musical Director Marilyn Blank
Choreographer Liz Cardall

Report

Author: Joe Clarke

Trinity AOS produced their first show of 2020 this week at The Daneside Theatre, Congleton to nearly sell out audiences.  Like it’s film counterpart, The Full Monty musical tells the same story but is set in Buffalo, New York and has a tailor-made score.  I have to admit, The Full Monty is one of my secretly favourite musicals and I find that the score contains some great memorable numbers.  The audience for this version were very supportive, often shouting out and clapping along to lots of the numbers.  Whilst I liked the opening scene and the closing scene as we, the audience, were part of the crowd watching the show, there were various other times throughout when actors broke the fourth wall.  This was a little confusing and one of my pet peeves.  I was also a little confused to other parts of direction such as the jogging scene which lead to the house of Pam.  After the scene, the joggers continued to jog as if through Pam’s house.  The various settings for locations wasn’t particularly clear and the static set behind the movable parts didn’t help establish location either.  For me, the ending of scenes and the transitions to another scene was a little awkward at times.  Despite this, some of the things that stood out were the great vocals and the comedic moments.  The vocals in the whole cast numbers were strong, as were the vocals of the main male cast.  The comedic moments were a highlight and it really helped get the audience on side and kept up entertained throughout.  Director and choreographer, Liz Cardall, was able to showcase some nice directorial decisions but for me, it lacked any clear consistency.  The choreography was good and helped moved the story along (Life with Harold) but it wasn’t ground breaking nor played to the strengths of the company.

The musical director, Marilyn Blank, and her band were great and were sympathetic to the cast and their timing.  The band sounded great and were well rehearsed.  I particularly liked the trumpet solo parts and the way in which the band provided light and shade depending on the style of the song.  Well done to Marilyn and her team!

The lighting design wasn’t great.  Throughout, there were shadows cast on actors faces and actors were not lit correctly.  This was partly down to direction (there were a lot of scenes when actors talked to each other in profile) but also down to actors being lit from above the stage.  This meant the light bounced off the tops of their heads and not on their faces.

The sound was good.  I could hear all of the actors at all times and the levels between band, cast and audience were good also.

The set looked good and was used well throughout to try and establish locations.  I’m not sure if I am a fan of the static set being in the background throughout, perhaps a cloth could’ve been used to hide the set?  Whilst the car looked great on stage and was used very well in the scene it was clearly a British car with right hand drive – I doubt anyone noticed this.

The main protagonist, Jerry, was brilliantly played by Simon Matthews.  Simon was able to display some great vocals in this ‘hard sing’ which were note perfect.  Simon was also able to show a range of emotions, told the story well and held the whole thing together very well.  A great performance! 

Jerry’s best friend, Dave, was brilliantly played by Simeon Green.  Simeon’s vocals were fabulous, and his comic timing and line delivery was equally as good.  I loved the friendship and rapport between Jerry and Dave which really came across.  This was important in establishing friendship and moving the story along.  A great performance!

Danny Gilman gave a sweeter and vulnerable performance as Malcolm.  I would’ve preferred Malcolm to draw the audience in a little more into his situation, but this is a directorial note and not a critique on Danny’s performance.  Danny had great comic timing and was able to showcase his beautiful vocals.  His version of You’ll Walk With Me was lovely!

Alex Bingle was good as Harold.  Alex was able to showcase his great vocals and worked well with both the other men and his wife Vicki.

Michael Shneck was equally funny and entertaining as Horse.  Despite not looking anywhere near old enough to play this role and losing his limp etc halfway through, Michael was suitably funny and sang well.  His version of Well-Hung Man (Big Black Man) was sung well and entertaining to watch.

John Beech and Oliver Lamont made up the rest of the male troupe as Ethan and Nathan respectively.  Both were well cast and suitably funny and entertaining throughout.  I liked the running up the wall bits from Beech and both displayed good singing.  Michael Jordan’s ball was a testament to this. 

The rest of the male roles were played by Sam Bromley, Simon Hoffman, Jack Thompson and Adrian Grace.  The female chorus were not quite as strong as the males, but this was more down to direction.  The end of scenes were a little awkward such as the bathroom scene when the actors stopped talking and walked offstage at the end.

Janette, played by Janine Royle, was fun and entertaining.  Janine was able to display great one liners and comic timing.  Her version of Janette’s Showbiz Number was a highlight.

Louise Colohan was strong as Vicki, Harold’s other half.  Louise is a great character actress, and this was another strong performance.  Life with Harold was a showstopper.  Louise also showed a great rapport with Harold and the other characters and was well cast in this role.

Alison Jones played the role of Georgie, Dave’s other half.  Whilst I didn’t get a great rapport between these two characters, Alison was good as Georgie and It’s A Woman’s world was presented well.

Niamh Brazier portrayed the role of Jerry’s Ex Wife Pam.  Whilst Niamh was good in this role with good stage presence, I would’ve preferred to see a little more of the levels of this complex character.  Again, this is more of a directorial choice rather than an interpretation.  I felt that Pam was played with one note (hate) towards Jerry and it could’ve been a will they/won’t they scenario to give it more depth. 

Jerry’s current squeeze, Estelle, was played by Charlotte Ward who was suitably cast.  Charlotte certainly looked the part and this helped with characterisation. 

The rest of the female chorus were a little hit and miss for me and not as strong as the men.  The vocals were a little weak at times and the ending of scenes were a little strange.  I suspect that this was down to directorial decisions and the lack of overall pace. 

I’m being overly picky here.  From an audience point of view this was a hit!  From a theatre reviewer point of view, this musical had so much potential if it had a little clearer thought, energy and pace.  The talent is certainly here and clear to see.  Don’t get me wrong, it was still VERY entertaining and VERY well sung and acted but it could’ve been SO much more.  Overall, this was a greatly entertaining and funny musical.  The sell-out audience were very supportive and laughed in all of the right places (and then some).  Hopefully they will return again to see this society who have a lot to offer! 

I thank Trinity AOS for their wonderful hospitality and wish them all the very best for other shows they are involved in this year.