The Full Monty at Stafford Gatehouse Theatre is a show by Musical Theatre Stafford with plenty of heart, excitement and eye-popping moments
Heading to Stafford for the opening night of The Full Monty, a production by Musical Theatre Stafford (MTS), I was filled with anticipation. I knew the story, but what I didn’t know was how far this lot were willing to go. And if you want to know the answer to that, you’ll have to go along and see the show too! It’s at the Stafford Gatehouse until Saturday May 4. Let’s just say, it’s well worth the trip.
But here’s what I can tell you…
The Full Monty is well-known across the world. It started out as a 1997 British comedy film set in Sheffield, directed by Peter Cattaneo and starring Robert Carlyle. The film was adapted and Americanised for Broadway in 2000, but the story remains the same. It follows six out-of-work men struggling to make ends meet after recently losing their jobs at a local steel plant following its closure.
Desperate to fight back and keep afloat, and, after seeing how popular Chippendale dancers are (a male striptease act), the men, led by best buddies Jerry and Dave, decide to create their own version – aptly named Hot Metal.
But they decide the only way to make their show better is to go ‘the full monty’ – baring all for those who come to see them.
A story within a story
The MTS production is set in Buffalo (as is the Broadway show). I have to say I was silently hoping they would take on the Yorkshire version. However, it’s a heart-warming interpretation all the same. There’s great chemistry between the lead roles of Jerry and Dan, played by Dan Tillsley and Tim Cooper. They create an engaging and comedic presence on stage, and it’s lovely for male relationships to take the spotlight for a change.
“It’s not just about the strip,” says chairman Roger Foxcroft. And he’s so right. This is a story about male bonding and being comfortable in your own skin. It’s about overcoming hardship and all the emotional challenges within that, friendship, love and supporting your family. And told from a male point of view, it’s refreshing and eye opening in more ways than one.
It’s true, the finale will get you there, but the story and values within it keep it close to your heart.
Sam Parton (Macgregor) and Mark Cooper (Girard) are another a great duo on stage. The story touches on a blossoming relationship between the two as Macgregor struggles to cope with looking after his sick mother. With Girard trying to walk up walls and Macgregor’s pitiful wines, they give the audience a barrel full of laughs along the way.
As did smooth-mover Duke Young, playing Noah ‘The Horse’ T Simmons. We’re treated to a fabulous performance of ‘Big Black Man’.
The main cast is completed by Will Wood, playing the lads’ ex-boss Harold Nichols, who is finding it hard to keep his wife’s expensive taste in hand. It shows that hardships can happen to anyone. And there is a particularly poignant scene in the show where Dave and Harold sing ‘You Rule My World‘.
While this is a show all about the boys, a special mention must go the the lady cast members too, who kept us wooing from start to finish. And especially to Tracey Brough-Chesters for her hilarious portrayal of the curt piano player Jeanette Burmeister.
Sure, it’s not as big a production as you might be used to, but there’s all the warmth and professionalism needed to make it a great night out. Clever staging, great lighting and a fantastic closing sequence make it memorable. And judging by the screams and cheers of the mostly female crowd, it didn’t disappoint.
And this is also a great way to support local theatre and talent too. All the cast are members of Musical Theatre Stafford, a local drama society made up of over 160 members aged 8-80. Tillsley lives in Stafford and Cooper in Newcastle-under-Lyme, for example. Even director Craig Armstrong has been a member since he was 13. Most will have ‘day jobs’ too and it’s wonderful to think that there is still such a lust for performing arts in and around Stafford.
The Full Monty plays at the Stafford Gatehouse Theatre from April 30 to May 4. Tickets start at £14.50 and can be purchased direct from the Stafford Gatehouse Theatre Box Office on 01785 619080 or online at www.musicaltheatrestafford.org.uk/fm.
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