Review: The Full Monty

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Hurray for the average Joe! Fat guys, nerdy guys, gay guys, straight guys and the less-than-well-endowed guys all unite in a fun-filled romp in the Patrick Street Production of The Full Monty currently playing at the Norman Rothstein Theatre.

Based on the hit 1997 movie (which is bit of an oddity as it is usually a stage play that gets made into a movie), The Full Monty manages to keep the bulk of storyline from the original movie, throws in a few songs (good and bad) and ultimately bring us to that ever-anticipated ending.

In the stage version, we are transported from the original Sheffield, England to Buffalo, New York and while the British steelworkers are replaced with their American equivalent, the themes that made the movie such a hit remain true in this musical stage version.

Trying to grapple with being out-of-work, a group of six steelworkers form “Hot Metal”, an all-male revue for a one-night only performance. The hope is to sell enough tickets to the show to help get them pay the bills and avoid working as a security guard at the local Walmart.

The Full Monty

The cast of the Patrick Street Production of The Fully Monty

The brainchild of Jerry (Leon Willey), the idea to strip for cash comes out of the love for his son Nathan (Joshua Ballard), whose mother is threatening to remove him from Jerry’s life if he doesn’t live up to his financial commitments agreed to during the divorce.

Jerry soon enlists his best friend Dave (Andy Toth) who has his own issues to deal with in one of the more engaging subplots as the overweight guy with image problems. Also joining the team are Malcolm (Greg Armstrong-Morris), the momma’s boy with some sexual identity issues and Harold (Stephen Aberle) who unlike the rest of the rag-tag group continues to hide the truth of his unemployment from his wife. The final two members of the group are Horse (Denis Simpson), the older black guy who doesn’t necessarily live up to his nickname and Ethan (Victor Dolhai) who fancies himself a dancer complete with two left feet.

While all six of the leads do admirable jobs in their various roles, the real stand-out here are Andy Toth as Dave. Toth manages to bring a real sensibility to this role that made his character and coupled with the great chemistry with wife Georgie (Caitriona Murphy), had us rooting for him right to the end.

The supporting cast of women take an obvious backseat here to the men but with one great exception, Jeanette (Bonnie Panych), the group’s musical accompanist. While the role of Jeanette is drawn with such broad strokes it would be difficult not to stand out, Panych does manage to inject a great warmth and humour to the role that takes us to the very edge of caricature but pulls back just enough to not make it ridiculous.

There are few really memorable songs in the show although highlights here included a sweet Breeze Off the River from Leon Willey and a very touching You Walk With Me from Amstrong-Morris and Dohlai.

Of course the finale is what we all come to see and we are not left disappointed. As the men finally take the stage for their one-night-only performance, Let It Go is a rallying cry for all of us to take that chance and bear it all for the world to see; for in the end it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks and love really does conquer all.

The Full Monty continues on stage through April 5th.  For tickets and information visit the Patrick Street Productions website.

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