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This stage version of the hugely successful film, is a riot of laughter and poignancy.  Six unemployed men, four of whom are former steel workers, all need to raise cash quickly, and hit upon the idea of forming a striptease act, during which they reveal everything – i.e., the full monty.

Gaz (Gary Lucy) heads up the cast, in his first theatre role.  He was excellent, and really made the part his own.  Together with his best mate Dave (Martin Miller); Lomper (Bobby Schofield), a young man who Gaz and Dave meet when they stop him committing suicide; Horse (Louis Emerick), Guy (Rupert Hill); and Gerald (Andrew Dunn), Gaz and Dave’s former boss, they set about learning dance routines, and preparing for revealing everything in front of everyone who knows them.

Each has their own issues and reasons for wanting or needing to form the striptease group, but during their preparation, friendships are made, relationships are formed, and the project becomes about more than just raising cash.

The staging was excellent, and all the songs from the film featured, with the film’s best known and loved scenes all being faithfully recreated in a stage setting.  The ‘Hot Stuff’ routine in the job centre was a real audience pleaser, and the final routine was brilliantly done.  The men do indeed do the full monty, but the lighting is cleverly done so that there is nothing to make any blush.

As well as lots (LOTS!) of laughter, there are also some tender moments – Dave desperate to lose weight, wrapping himself in cling-film, while eating a Mars Bar; Guy and Lomper falling for each other, Gaz’s struggles with his ex-wife, and Gerald’s worries about trying to find a new job before his wife discovers that he has lost his old one.

The main cast were all excellent – I would never have guessed that Gary Lucy had never done theatre before – and each and every one of them brought his character to life, and really made the audience care about them.

The show received a standing ovation, and it was well deserved.  The whole audience clearly had a wonderful time, with whooping and hollering throughout, but all in a very good natured sense (and boy, do the ladies love Gary Lucy!)

Definitely a show to see if you get chance – you are guaranteed to leave with a smile on your face!

(For more information about this production, please click here.)

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The Touring Consortium Theatre Company present this superb adaptation of the 1996 film.  The story is narrated by Shane, the son of miner Phil and his wife Sandra, and tells of events in the early 1990s in the northern town of Grimley (the story is real events in the town of Grimethorpe), where the mine is under threat of closure, with all the employees facing unemployment.  Enter Gloria, an accomplished flugelhorn player, who joins the colliery brass band.  However, she doesn’t tell them that she is back in her home town of Grimley to complete a report on whether or not the mine is worth keeping open.  Matters are further complicated when she rekindles a childhood romance with bandmate Andy Barrow, one of the miners who will lose his job if the mine should close.

Meanwhile, Danny Ormondroyd, the band leader and father of Phil, sees all the misery of the miners, but only seems concerned with the bands success; he points out that the band has been going for more than one hundred years, and has outlasted previous closures and two world wars.

Against the backdrop of the band’s music, the lives of the miners and their wives are played out, as the threatened mine closure causes poverty, marital problems and at one point, an attempted suicide.

Despite the sometimes grim subject matter, the play has a lot of humour.  There are some wonderful one liners, and the scenes showing the drunken antics of two miners and their wives are literally laugh-out-loud funny.  However, it was also very moving.  John McCardle had the unenviable task of taking on a role immortalised on film by the late great Pete Postlethwaite, but McCardle was more than up to the task, and he was wonderful as cantankerous band leader Danny.  Andrew Dunn was also excellent as Danny’s son Phil.  The rest of the cast were just as good, namely Clara Darcy as Gloria, Rebecca Clay as Sandra, James Robinson as Andy, Kraig Thornber and Andrew Roberts-Palmer as Phil’s friends and colleagues Jim and Harry, and Gilly Tompkins and Helen Kay as Jim and Harry’s wives Vera and Rita.

The production is using local brass bands from each town or city where they perform, and for their run at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre, the band was Jackfield Brass Band from Ironbridge.  They were excellent, and the music which featured in the show was by turns rousing and moving, providing the perfect ‘soundtrack’ for a play that had lots of belly laughs, but which was also telling a very upsetting and true story of shattered lives and broken dreams.

This excellent production is still touring – if you get the chance, go see it!

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