The Full Monty
|12th April 2017
|Pied Pipers Musical Theatre Club
|ADC Theatre, Cambridge
|Type of Production
|Bryony Garner Sullivan
Author: Julie Petrucci
Pied Pipers Musical Theatre Club performed The Full Monty at the ADC Theatre, England’s oldest University playhouse. This musical is an Americanised adaptation of the British film hit which follows the ploy of Jerry Lukowski to make a quick buck by rounding up an unlikely group of unemployed males to ‘go all the way’ in a unique stripper act.
This show benefited from the experienced production team, headed by Director Richard Fitt who did a fine job, making full use of the levels available in the simple setting provided by Michael Darvell and Sarah Phelps enabling continuous acting. Musical director, Rowan Marshall and the excellent band ensured good sound from the pit but at times the clarity of the cast's lines were indistinct and perhaps the sound balance could have been addressed. The choreography provided by Bryony Garner Sullivan was well devised and executed to a good standard.
Backstage work was handled smoothly and without interruption to the performance. Costumes were well sourced and hair and make up just right. Technically, the lighting was well used and well controlled. As mentioned above, there was noticeable sound balance problems. One of my bugbears is poorly controlled radio mics, particularly in musicals. Often it appears the performers’ dialogue is in competition with the underscoring and this was the case here.
There was not a weak link in the male line up all playing their characters with conviction and good American accents. I felt all the main principals performed with great understanding, bringing out much of the humour.
From James Inman’s impressive show opening Chippendale-esque performance as the handsome and experienced gay male stripper Buddy 'Keno' Walsh the audience were on side all the way.
Rory Lowings performance as Jerry Lukowski, a complex emotional character with a genuine tenderness for his son was excellent. He had the oft-referred to good-looks and a “nice rear” which is also much referenced. This actor created an extremely likeable character and showed convincing love and tenderness for his son.
Gareth Atkinson as Dave Bukatinsky, Jerry's best friend, gets swept along in Jerry's plans. His struggles with unemployment, its effect on his marriage and his body weight and self-esteem issues were well-depicted. This was an exceptional performance acting and singing alike.
First in the friends’ planned line-up is Malcolm MacGregor (Samule Tofano) a shy gay man who they rescue from the smoke-filled cab of an impressive lorry during his half-hearted suicide attempt. This was a fine and at times touching performance.
Through their auditions for male strippers, Malcolm meets Ethan (Andreas Bedorf). Ethan’s growing affection for Malcolm was, I thought, well handled. His energetic yet incompetent attempts at wall-walking a la Donald O’Connor had to be admired.
Gerry Crowe as Noah “Horse” T. Simmons was, I understand, making his stage debut and certainly gave a good account of himself. He has a great voice as born out in his solo 'Big Black Man.’
There was a fine and well-handled performance from Chip Colquhoun as Harold Nichols the men’s former supervisor who has yet to admit to his wife his unemployment. Aloof at first but despite his frustration with his pupil’s dance skills he is what finally, and arduously, brings Hot Metal alive.
Young Christopher Pardo (performing on 12 & 15 April as Nathan Lukowski – Jerry's 12-year old son), gave an extremely good performance more than holding his own among the adult cast. A young up-and-coming actor and one to watch out for.
The failed audition by Union Leader Reg Willoughby (Chas Barclay) was very funny indeed.
Whilst the show is not particularly kind to the ladies it is not just about the guys and their underwear issues! The women's roles are pivotal. Daisy Gill gave a good vocal performance and character portrayal as Georgie Bukatinsky. DeeDee Doke as Jeannette Burmeister – the unshockable piano player who showed up (with a piano) to play for the guys totally out of the blue was fun and Samantha Billing (Pam Lukowski) and Megan Stickler (Vicki Nichols) made much of their roles.
The supporting cast, Andrew Shepherd (Teddy Slaughter – Pam's fiancé), Laura Roberts (Estelle Genovese), Samantha Bardini (Susan Hershey), Emily Garner (Joanie Lish), Rosemary Jolley (Dolores), Madeleine Harmer (Molly MacGregor, Malcolm's aged ailing mother). Steve Doke (Minister/Tony Giordano), Marty (William Hale), Paul Gaskell (Police Sergeant) all fully embodied the spirit of the production.
This was the first time I had seen The Full Monty the musical. Although the main storyline is the same as the great film I did feel bits of it were a bit rushed. In particular the build-up of the relationship between Malcolm and Ethan and the police raid on the men’s dress rehearsal. Of course that will be in the writing and not in the direction or performance which to my mind was fine.
It takes guys with plenty of guts to get up on stage and take their clothes off, not to mention totally stripping off for a show and I have to say there was plenty of guts in the guys who did bare all in this production. To say it was a crowd pleaser could be an understatement as it was screams and wolf whistles all round from the ladies, and maybe one or two men, in the audience.
Congratulations to all involved on a fine evening’s entertainment, which would have been even better without the sound issues.