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  • Stacey Ireson

Theatre Review: The Full Monty | Nottingham Arts Theatre

Disclaimer: Complimentary tickets were gifted for review purposes. All views and opinions are my own

Earlier this week, I was invited to attend the opening night performance of The Full Monty: The Broadway musical at the Nottingham Arts Theatre.  It’s been a bit of a week, so only just finding time to sit down and write this review, but I still wanted to take the opportunity to share my praise of these performers.

If you are a fan of the original 1997 film then you might be surprised at a few of the changes made for this musical version.  The action has been moved from Sheffield, in the North of England to Buffalo, New York and while the names and accents have been altered accordingly, the heart of the story remains the same.

"The Full Monty: the Broadway Musical" is a bizarre mix of Hen Party atmosphere and a deep, emotional evaluation of masculinity and what it means to be a man.  The show takes you through a whole range of emotions with lots of opportunities for tears and laughter along the way.

That Hen Party mood kicks off from the top of the show, with a very brave solo performance from Jordan Peppiatt as Buddy “Keno” Walsh, the established stripper and entertainer for the “Girls’ Night Out”.  According to the programme, this is Jordan’s debut in theatre, which makes me even more impressed with how confidently he performed his opening strip routine.

It must be incredibly daunting to open a show by standing along on stage and performing a saucy striptease to an audience that hasn’t yet warmed up, but Jordan absolutely smashed it.  He worked the crowd, fully committed to the routine and really set the tone for the whole show.  

It is after meeting Buddy that Jerry (played here by JJ McCormack) comes up with the wild idea to form a band of male strippers with some of his out-of-work friends.  JJ has a strong stage presence and heaps of charisma, which really helped the audience to believe that he would be able to convince the guys to join his crazy scheme!

JJ has a strong, soulful voice that is showcased fabulously in numbers such as “Man” and Breeze off the River” and he brings just the right amount of vulnerability to his performance to make the audience sympathise with this occasionally unlikeable character.

Gary Thorne plays Dave, Jerry’s best friend who is dealing with his own marital problems and insecurities around the strip routine. Gary did a fabulous job of bringing this character to life, balancing some great comic moments with some lovely emotional scenes that really tugged at the heart strings.

Another strong singer, I particularly enjoyed the sense of camaraderie between Dave and Jerry which felt very natural, especially in the darkly humorous “Big-Ass Rock”

Bertie Black was absolutely perfect as the awkward Malcolm.  His comic timing and delivery was outstanding and he really understood how to make the audience laugh.  Malcolm also has to deal with some of the show’s darker and more sensitive moments, and Bertie handled these equally brilliantly.   One highlight was the beautifully moving “You Walk With Me”, where Bertie got to display his stunning singing voice, as well as some truly beautiful emotional acting.

Harold, the latin dancing husband who lies to his wife about losing his job, was played by Sam Howard.  Sam is another brilliant addition to the group, and really gave his all in the role.   He was another natural comedian, who understood how to deliver each line for maximum effect and I really enjoyed watching him interact with the rest of the cast.

Shantanu Bhumbra took on the role of Ethan, who makes an instant impression at this audition for the troupe of strippers.  This is a very different role to what I’ve seen Shantanu in before, but he absolutely threw himself into the role (and the wall in a Donald O’Connor gag that just never gets old)

The final member of the troupe is Horse, played here by Saurav Modak.  Saruav actually stepped in as understudy for this role, so he is to be commended for  giving such a confident performance at such short notice.

I cannot stress enough how much admiration I hold for these guys for the sheer amount of guts it takes to perform a show such as “The Full Monty”.  There are so many points during the show where they collectively have to bare it all (often literally) and it is incredibly scary to make yourself this vulnerable in front of an audience.  If the cast were nervous about stripping off, they certainly didn’t show it and the big final strip number was an up-lifting and triumphant moment which they should be incredibly proud of.  

There are two performers taking on the role of Jerry’s son, Nathan.  At this performance, I saw Charlie Enright who gave a performance beyond his years as he often had to appear to be the more grown up of the father/son combo.  Charlie displayed some lovely acting ability and will definitely be one to watch out for in future productions. 

It’s said that behind every great man is a great woman, and this show is filled with some great female performances.  

Lindsey Hemmingway gives a great comic turn as Jeanette, the piano player and showbiz expert who turns up (piano and all) to support the troupe and share with them her (often amusing) nuggets of wisdom.  Lindsey delivered every mannerism and line with precision and expertise and was a real comedic highlight of the show.

Emma Gunn gives a stand-out performance as Georgie, Dave’s wife. Georgie acts as a sort of a ringleader for the women in the town, and Emma’s stunning, resonant voice really works in her big numbers such as “It’s a Woman’s World” 

Pippa Ward was hilarious and charming as Vicki, the oblivious wife of Harold.  Her comic deliver was spot on.  The chemistry between both couples was lovely to watch, especially in the sweet, sentimental reprise of “You Rule My World”.

Jerry’s long-suffering ex-wife Pam was played by Emily Hudson.  It would be easy to make this character seem like the villain of the piece, but Emily’s portrayal really helped to make the audience sympathise with Pam’s frustrations.  

The remaining women were made up of Daisy Donaghue (Estelle), Isobel Munden ( Betty), Courtney Giddy (Molly), Emma Nicol (Joanie), Charlotte Clay (Susan) and Alison Russell (Ally).

All of the ladies had great energy when on stage, whether in their choreographed numbers such as “The Goods” (choreographed by Charlotte Clay and Daisy Donaghue) or when hyping up the audience and building atmosphere during the final strip routine”

The cast is rounded up with a heap of great supporting performances from Kevin Jones as the Dance Teacher, Joe Pritchard as the Repo Man, Reverend and Sergent and Barry Hobbs as the Police Sergent.  

Directed by Marie Rogers and with musical direction by AJ Hill, The Full Monty is an upbeat, all-out comedy that packs a huge emotional punch . The whole cast worked together brilliantly to bring this story to life and should be very proud of the final results.

The Full Monty holds its final performances today, but there are still a few tickets left so if you hurry you can still catch it!  Tickets are on sale on the Nottingham Arts Theatre website.

1 Comment

Jun 29

What a review. Seen a lot of these actors in other things, worthy of the west end



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