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Inspired by one of the most successful British films ever, the Broadway musical The Full Monty is a seven million dollar Broadway song and dance extravaganza. Music and lyrics are by David Yazbek, who says the style is eclectic, pop rock with a tip of th

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      17.04.2002 04:36
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      There was once a film so well-received it became known as ‘The Best British film since ‘4 Weddings’”. It is now a fading memory as there have been so many best British films since the last best British film that it all becomes a little bit ridiculous. The film tells the story of a group of unemployed men going to drastic measures to pay their way. Drastic measures that include waving certain parts of their anatomy at a hall full of the opposite sex – but it wasn’t a film about stripping, was it ladies? No -to call it that would be a grave injustice. To do the same with the musical would be equally wicked. Ladies and Gentlemen: For one night only I am going to perform….The Full Monty. ***THE BACKGROUND*** The film was a fantastic box office hit on both sides of the Atlantic and shortly after its success it was suggested that the film would make a great musical. Originally set in Sheffield, following the collapse of the steel industry, the musical version takes place in Buffalo, the second largest city in New York State, in the good ol’ US of A. The main characters’ home and job situations remain pretty much the same, the names and accents change. Where the film succeeded, the musical follows… ***THE STORY*** A Buffalo Night Club, a room full of women and a rather well-dressed gentleman who, by the end of the overture is in little more than a handkerchief held together with dental floss, introduce us to the world of the married housewives fantasy and the glamour of being a male stripper. An Adonis like bloke is rained with dollar bills and the women go crazy. Meanwhile their redundant husbands are given told that there is no future for them in the once-thriving Buffalo steel industry. Through this scene we are introduced to Jerry Lukowski, Dave Bukatinsky, Malcolm MacGregor and Ethan Girard. Jerry is young and handsome. His marriage is o
      n the rocks, his wife lives with another man and he is going to loose any chance of seeing his son if he doesn’t manage to pay the costs agreed by the court. Dave is fat. Malcolm is the only survivor from the redundancies and is now employed as a security guard at the factory. And Ethan…well, Ethan is talented in the ‘trouser’ department – so to speak. Jerry and Dave sneek into the nightclub on a women’s only night to see how their women are entertained by strip artists. They are nearly discovered hiding in the gents loo when their wives rush into avoid the queue at the ladies. Upon emerging from their hiding place after the women have left the gents and following a chance conversation with one of the strippers, Jerry concocts a plan that’ll raise them $50,000 at least. Namely if women pay to see poofs like that strip, imagine what they’d pay to see a real man strip… Jerry then puts Dave (who never once agreed to this plan) through an arduous training progamme to get fit. On one of their runs they pass an old friend in a car, who is about to commit suicide. They rescue him, be-friend him, tell him their plan and have another member of the troupe. Next they enlist Harold Nichols, the old foreman of their factory, to choreograph their routine. Harold’s wife, Vicki, has no idea that Harold no longer has a job and continues to spend money that isn’t there. The blokes are sworn to secrecy not to reveal the truth to Vicki. Four members to the troupe now and open auditions are held with two new appointees. Firstly, Noah ‘Horse’ T. Simmons, a fifty-something black man who still knows how to move. Secondly, Ethan – rather ‘talented’ in the trouser department. With a full compliment of men, the rehearsals begin aided by an ageing friend and pianist called Jeanette. Not knowing how to dance correctly, an example of a dance step is given i
      n basket-balling terms and the routine begins to take shape. Tickets for the show are not selling well until Jerry makes a rather rash promise in the heat of the moment. His group will give the ladies what the other men would not – they would go The Full Monty. The rehearsals continue in the factory, in Harold’s living room before a full ‘un’-dress rehearsal in front of some old dears from the home down the road is interrupted by a visit from the police. Arrested and humiliated, Jerry has to admit to his ex-wife what is going on. Harold is confronted by Vicki and Dave has a few questions to answer from his wife, Georgie. Dave takes on a security job at Wal-Mart, putting a strain on his friendship with Jerry. Malcolm and Ethan escape to Malcolm’s house to discover that Malcolm’s aged mother has died. All the men attend the funeral. It’s the big night. The whole team are there except Dave. Jerry is having second thoughts himself. They are wished luck by Jeanette, but how will the story end..? ***THE SET*** The set is very simple. There are sheets of corrugated iron that act as shields to enable actors to sneek on and off the stage and they also give the whole look of the show a modern industrial feel. The nightclub is created with two rotating pieces of scenery, one side showing ‘outside’ and the other ‘inside’ – in this case the ‘inside’ being the gents loos complete with sinks, toilets and urinals. Minimal set and scenery work really well in this setting. There are no huge sets to cloud the senses so all attention is focussed on what is happening on the stage. ***THE SONGS*** Gone are the tunes from the film – no Tom Jones or Hot Chocolate here. What you do find is some genuinely great tunes courtesy of David Yazbeck. Here is my list of the best: SCRAP (sung by the men
      of the company) talks about how it feels to be unemployed, spending time at home and doing work the women should be doing. It speaks of the irony they find themselves in. They should be providing for the women, but find the whole situation reversed. BIG-ASS ROCK (sung by Jerry, Dave and Malcolm). Jerry and Dave offer Malcolm various ways of ending his life from the titular rock to drowning. Malcolm meanwhile is happy he has two people he can call his friends! BIG BLACK MAN (sung by ‘Horse’) is a hilarious number, showcasing Horse’s dancing technique despite the dodgy back and hips, in which he blags about the size of his manhood. MICHAEL JORDAN’S BALL (sung by the men) is the song in which the men practice several dance techniques while pretending to play basketball. Replicating the film scene which uses football instead. Very, very good. YOU WALK WITH ME (sung by Malcolm and Ethan) is sung at the funeral of Malcolm’s mother. It begins with Malcolm lamenting the fact his mother is dead and he now has no-one to walk with him in life. Ethan offers to take up that role and the two express their love and gratitude for each other. LET IT GO! (sung by the guys) the final number in which the title of the film becomes all too clear!! Great number! ***THE CAST*** All of the original Broadway cast of lead actors have made it across the pond to star in this show: THE MEN. John Ellison Conlee – Dave Bukatinsky. Jason Danieley – Malcolm MacGregor. Andre De Shields – Noah ‘Horse’ T. Simmons. Jarrod Emick – Jerry Luckowski. Marcus Neville – Harold Nichols. Romain Fruge – Ethan Girard. Unfortunately Romain Fruge is ‘indisposed’ at the moment and the role of Ethan is played by Andrew Brooke, a home-grown talent in only his second West End role. THE WOMEN. Julie-Alanah
      Brighten – Pam Lukowski. Gina Murray – Georgie Bukatinsky. Rebecca Thornhill – Vicki Nichols. The role of Jeanette Burmeister is played by Dora Bryan – I recognise her from her role in Absolutely Fabulous but she has done so much more from theatre to film and TV. ***THE CONCLUSION*** You must go and see The Full Monty while it is running in London. It is an excellent show. Funny, outrageous, moving and lively – it is one of the best in the West End at the moment. The women played second fiddle to the men – which is only to be expected as this show revolves so much around the men. While some aspects of the film are glossed over a little quickly, the relationship between Jerry and his son for instance, while other areas are looked at in more depth. The characters off Dave and Harold and their respective wives are fleshed out through a song called ‘You Rule My World’, sung in the first half by the husbands and reprised in the second by their wives. Dora Bryan’s role has been something of a controversy. I’ve read comments such as she spoils the show, is embarrassingly awful to she should be put out of her misery. I don’t agree with any of those. Yes, her delivery was slow and sometimes jokes fell incredibly flat, but she more than made up for it in her ‘musical’ number and with the way she worked the audience – chucking in the odd ad-lib now and then. I thought she was great fun. If you go and see this show you will recognise little bits of it here and there. The nightclub toilet scene, Dave and his cling-film, Malcolm trying to kill himself in his car. The songs are all original and great fun, sung by a great cast. Do yourself a favour. Go and see it and give it a chance. Of course it’s not the British film set in Sheffield. It’s the Broadway musical set in Buffalo. Despite the move i
      n location, the heart and soul of the story are left very much in tact. ***WARNING**** Contains swearing and erm...nudity! ***TICKET INFORMATION*** I brought my tickets from the TKTS booth in Leicester Square. I paid £20.00 (+£2.50 surcharge) for a £40.00 seat. The TKTS booth opens at 10.00am. Go early for the best tickets. Queue on the right for matinee tickets and the left for evening performances. The booth is located on the right hand side of the sqaure as you look at the entrance to the Odeon Cinema. The Full Monty is currently showing at The Prince of Wales theatre in the West End. Tickets priced £15.00 - £40.00 The Prince of Wales Theatre, Coventry Street, London, WW1 6AS. 020 7839 5987 / 020 7839 5972 Or www.ticketmaster.co.uk Official Website: www.thefullmontymusical.com

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