The Full Monty

Dates: 2 - 7 September 2003
: The Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts.

Reviewer: John Jane






A Musical Written by Terrence McNally with music and lyrics by David Yazbek

Director: Jack O'Brien
Choreographer: Jerry Mitchell

David Yazbek
David Yazbek
After decades in which musicals started on stage and only when successful, made it to film. The trend now appears to be the reverse and one of the most entertaining of these adaptations is The Full Monty. This production simultaneously gains and loses in the conversion from the 1997 celluloid original which featured standout performances (apologies for the bad pun) by Robert Carlyle and Tom Wilkinson.

Terrence McNally craftily relocates the action from Sheffield, England to Buffalo, New York. No discernable difference here. These two declining industrial cities perhaps have more in common than either community might care to acknowledge. McNally’s version however, does rely on the audience accepting that blue-collar Americans share the same fear of public embarrassment as their British counterparts. Also, the gap between blue-collar and white-collar is less defined in North America than in Britain, an issue played to the hilt by Carlyle and Wilkinson in the original.

On the plus side, New Yorker David Yazbek’s original tunes replace the rather hackneyed disco soundtrack of the film and dovetails perfectly into the story.

Native Angelino, Christian Anderson has the most to do - and does it well - as Jerry, the ringleader, who inspires his unemployed buddies to emulate the Chippendale model in order to make some much needed cash. Then, has to overcome his own stage fright to go ‘The Full Monty’.

The show opens with the union hall scene with “Scrap” an edgy, angry rock tune that characterizes Jerry’s masculinity crisis. Next, it’s the turn of the female cast members, who get together in the men’s washroom of the local bar (it’s ladies night) to confidently perform the apodictic “It’s a Woman’s World”.





Anderson gets admirable support from his five cohorts, especially Eric Leviton as his long-time chubby buddy Dave. The two play off each other’s talents very well in Malcolm’s (Leo Daignault) suicide scene, with a witty rendition of “Big-Ass Rock”.

Singing and dancing skills are deliberately underplayed since the essential premise hangs on the ineptitude of the bunch as real performers. The cast is personable enough, however, to get the audience rooting for them in their struggle towards respectability. The weakest performance is by Trey Ellett who plays Ethan, whose failed attempts at wall-climbing begin to get tiresome long before the intermission.

Jerry Mitchell’s choreography is well designed though it tends more towards coordinated motion than conventional dance. His style is particularly evident in the performance of the closing first act number “Michael Jordan’s Ball” where the guys find a way of turning basketball techniques into slick dance movements.

Young Aaron Nutter, who alternates with Ryan Postal in the role of Jerry’s 12 year-old son, Nathan, turns in a mature performance and hardly puts a foot wrong.

The Finale
The famous finale

For the most part, The Full Monty is fun. The infamous finale doesn’t disappoint either. Cunning use of lighting saves the audience from gratuitous exposure of male essentials. Not surprisingly, women in the audience appear to extract the most mirth from the show’s ending. Perhaps they see ‘peeling’ simply as harmless burlesque rather than prurient titillation.

© 2003, John Jane