StageArt Presents THE FULL MONTY

Yes, they do

By Tania Herbert

StageArt‘s production of the Broadway version of The Full Monty with book with Terrence McNally and score by David Yasbek opened to a full house and enthusiastic audience, and a vibrant cast and impressive production team certainly gave it their all.

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That said, there is a reason that The Full Monty doesn’t get regularly produced in Australia – unfortunately the show is, overall, fairly awful. The same storyline as the wonderful 1997 British film is more or less followed, however by Americianising the storyline and approach, nothing is gained but so very much is lost. Lacking depth, sensitivity, and self-insight, it’s inherently a limited script which doesn’t even get close to doing justice to the range of social and emotional issues that the original film touched upon.

That said, this cast certainly performed the heck out of it– managing to bring likeability to a series of fairly unlikable American stereotypes. Scott Mackenzie took on the lead of Jerry and did an admirable job of pulling the story along, and sidekick Dave, played by Giancarlo Salamanca, sang beautifully. However, the somewhat dragging first act was well and truly saved by the character roles-  Wem Etuknwa as ‘Horse’, Barbara Hughes as Jeanette and Ana Mitsikas as Vicki all enter the show quite late, but really added the comic element and brought about a much needed lift.

It said something that the musical’s showstopper was the filler number Jeanette’s Showbiz Number– although the better-paced second act not only brought a lot more laughs, but really built a sense of anticipation of the finale as the other big and highly enjoyable showstopper moment (and in case you’re wondering- yes, they do).

The music is neither memorable nor particularly interesting, with the exception of the exquisite funeral song You Walk With Me, touchingly performed here by Montgomery Wilson with Adam Perryman. Despite this, the musical direction (by Nathan Firmin) was superb, utilising the very vocally strong ensemble to the fullest.

The staging under the direction of Drew Downing was interesting and contemporary- a minimalist construction site set brought in lots of movement and levels, and the onstage band added a bit of a rock-musical feel.

The Full Monty is, unfortunately, not a great musical,- but StageArt’s production was still a highly enjoyable evening with a rocking cast, slick production and plenty of talent on show (pun intended).

The Full Monty is presented by StageArt and is playing at The National Theatre from March 3 until March 19.

Tickets: $49-$74 from www.stageart.com.au

Image by Belinda Strodder

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