Originally released as a film in 1997, the story of the The Full Monty has been relocated from Sheffield to Buffalo, New York State for the musical version. However the show still retains its comedy value and feel good factor immaterial of where it is set as the show is about male pride, grit and determination, which is the same the world over.
The story revolves around Jerry Lukowski who is unemployed thanks to the closure of the steel works. Having just two weeks to raise the money to keep seeing his son, he hits on the idea of forming a male dance group made up of his former colleagues. They all press ahead with the idea despite being told they will make complete fools of themselves. The six men rehearse and prepare to face a hostile reception until impulsively, to the total shock of the rest of the dancers - now named Hot Metal - Jerry agrees that they should all perform the The Full Monty to boost ticket sales.
The six main characters are stereotypes such as the fat friend, snooty boss, shy mothersboy, but here they bounce off one another, both physically and metaphorically as the troop start to pull together. Tim Rogers plays the main character Jerry with the right balancing of his devil may care attitude against his real reason for stripping. Jacqueline Clarke has the only decent woman's role and delightfully plays comic old trooper Jeanette, who pounds away at the piano for the boys as they rehearse. However all members of the cast are very competent in their roles and contribute to what is essentially an ensemble piece.
Full marks must go to John Arnone for his set design, which swiftly moves the show along and conveys the gritty steel industry of Buffalo without being fussy or getting in the way of the action or comedy.
The one downside of the musical is that the songs are instantly forgettable with the exception of the finale "Let It Go", but that does not detract from the overall show.
This is a musical that can be enjoyed at all levels and will not offend (apart from a few swear words) or cause embarrassment even if you take your Mother or Grandmother along. Fans of the hit film version will not be disappointed either as the main story and comedy pieces remain true to the original film. This is a feel good show that certainly leaves the audience wanting and cheering for more.
- John Dixon (Reviewed at Newcastle Theatre Royal)