Full Monty Reviews

Leeds Student Radio Review on Full Monty by Lauren Fordham

Full Monty  at Leeds City Varieties  16th to 20th May 2017

Although I've been a fan of LAOS for many years, this is the first time I have seen them perform at Leeds City Varieties and it proved a wonderful vehicle for their collective talents. The smaller stage and theatre itself provided a very intimate feel and almost forced the audience to be up close and personal with the actors and action, almost uncomfortably so in fact, particularly when the professional Chippendales strip before the curtain has fully risen. This isn't to the show's detriment, however, as it simply gives the audience an empathy for both the characters and the brave actors.

The pleasurable discomfort of the audience increased with the raunchy innuendo of the first female ensemble number, 'A Woman's World', but turned to humour as we watched Jerry and Dave react to their words -  Rick Greenwood's comic timing as Dave is commendable.

A word of praise is warranted here about the set - each scene had minimal props so the impact of the dialogue and physicality needed to be stronger and it certainly was - there were only a couple of pretend urinals but the blocking and movement of the actors around them made the bathroom feel crowded and sweaty as the two men hid in horror. The use of only one or two props per scene focused the audience's attention on them and gave them more significance.

So far, so awkwardly enjoyable in such a simple if crass, stereotypically heteronormative context. The tone changes when Dave and Jerry come across Malcolm, whom they initially reject as a comrade since he still has a job, until they realise that he is filling the car he is fixing with carbon monoxide gas. Thus comes the first lesson about not judging by first impressions and, in 'Big Ass Rock', one of the funniest songs about suicide I have heard.

Gareth James as Malcolm was adorably geeky and thoroughly endearing and perfectly matched with Elliot Matthews' Ethan Girard - should they ever turn professional they would make excellent Elders Price and Cunningham in The Book of Mormon.

Another actor of particular note is Reggie Challenger as Noah 'Horse' Simmons - his laid back characterisation made his movement skills revelatory and impressive to characters and audience alike.

Another standout musical number, 'Michael Jordan's Ball' was a funny masculinisation of the boys' dance routine and they all moved seamlessly together, closing the first half of the show in a definite slam dunk.

Act 2 showed most of the characters' softer sides, I enjoyed the interaction between Jerry and his son Nathan around 'Breeze Off The Water' and the quiet partnership of Malcolm and Ethan in 'You Walk With Me', showing we can have the courage to do almost anything if we have a friend beside us. And courage these actors had in, for one breath-holding second giving us 'The Full Monty'. I had no doubt they would deliver, however because wherever they play, stripped down set or no, LAOS always leaves its audience satisfied.

Lauren Fordham


Wharfedale Review on Full Monty by Val Pennett

Full Monty  at Leeds City Varieties  16th to 20th May 2017

Well, well, well, what a surprise in more senses than one! I was thinking I was going to a ‘Songs from the Shows’ evening and instead it was ‘bums galore’! Why I wonder was it necessary to give the American version of this pop show? Surely it would have been more appropriate to take the good old Yorkshire accent, as the show’s original setting was, I believe, in Sheffield.

However this is a strong castoff men and ladies, the girls wearing eye catching costumes of all colours. A cast list of 24 all excelled, and it would be unfair to pick out any one person.  Musically ‘Full Monty’ is a show of jazzy, robust and ever changing tempos, which are a challenge to singers and orchestra alike. The Society is lucky to have vocalists who are able to cope with this difficult music. Jim Lunt, the Musical Director, playing keyboards himself, is in charge of an impressive orchestra of 6.

The show, as most people will know, has various interwoven stories within it. The main theme of course is the men deciding to earn some extra money by turning themselves into male strippers, but first of all they have to learn the art of stripping and rehearse a routine.  Choreographers were Sian and Elaine Wormald, and they did a great job as movement throughout was excellent., the men particularly in their element. Director of ‘Full Monty’ was John Hall. Scenes changes moved quickly and were well  thought out, although principals could have used the stage more than mainly front of stage, but this was a fine production and a team effort in every way.

In April 2018, this talented Society are moving back to the Grand Theatre, where they are to give Sir Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s ground breaking musical ‘CATS’. After celebrating their 125 years of entertaining Leeds audiences, and the disruptions they have had to go through, it will be wonderful for this Leeds Society to be back where they belong.

Val Pennett


Review of Full Monty by Pam Booth from NODA

The Full Monty requires six very brave and talented men to fill the roles of unemployed ex- steelworkers and this production had certainly found them.

Jerry Lukowski (Iain Harvey) has not only lost his job but his wife as well and is desperately fighting to keep contact with his son. His friend Dave Bukatinsky (Rick Greenwood) is suffering from very low self esteem and the two men are devastated when they find their wives at a strip show. Jerry comes up with the money making idea of forming a group of male strippers and they gradually encourage other to join them. Harold Nichols (Ian Moorhouse) joins reluctantly to assist with dancing routines and help fund the needs of his much loved wife. Malcolm MacGregor (Gareth James) finds friendship with the group and also a partner in Ethan Girard (Elliott Matthews). Noah 'Horse' Simmons (Reggie Challenger) brings along new moves for the performance and between them the show takes off.

These six men worked well together as a team and their singing and dancing moves were excellent. They were well cast in their roles and newcomer Reggie Challenger certainly earned his stripes.

They were well supported by the ladies in the story with strong performances from Laura Judge as Harold's wife, Naomi Parkin as Jerry's wife, Lizzie Parry as Dave's wife and Sandy Nicholson as the long suffering  piano player.

Alfie Coles was very winning as Jerry's young son as I'm sure his 'job share' Alex Conlon would be at other performances.

There were some excellent cameo performances and the ladies of the company who had to move from audience to stage were very amusing. Their costumes were colourful and varied and good attention had been given to hairstyles and accessories.

The singing and dancing were strong throughout the show and the orchestra played sympathetically which enabled us to hear all the words.

The simple set worked well and was easily changed with only one or two first night slip ups. It's amazing what can be done with a few boxes and a little imagination.

This was a most enjoyable 'comeback' show and was very well received by the audience, it was just a shame that there weren't more of us. Come on Leeds, support your own societies!

Pam Booth