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Friday, 15 March, 2002, 18:53 GMT
Full Monty gets American makeover
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By BBC News Online's Keily Oakes
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The Prince of Wales Theatre is a small, intimate venue so you will not need your opera glasses to catch the action in this sizzler of a strip show.

The Full Monty musical first opened on Broadway where it became an instant hit. And UK fans were begging to know when it would arrive in the West End.

Well it has finally landed, bringing with it many of the original Broadway cast, including the fabulous lead actor Jarrod Emick as Jerry and twinkle toes André De Shields as The Horse.

Do the men go all the way?
It has a very American slant to it, with songs full of American references and a cornucopia of US accents.

The Full Monty film is known to millions as a tale of working class northern British men. It highlighted the plight of towns devastated when steel factories shut down.

For The Full Monty the musical, the action moves from Sheffield to the rough streets of Buffalo in New York, but with the same problems of a collapsing steel trade.

Whereas the film version touches a raw nerve for its depressing insight into the problems of long-term unemployment, the flashy musical glosses over the hard times.

From the outset there is naked flesh on display which helps everyone get into the "whoopin' an a hollerin'" spirit and helps get rid of embarrassed giggles from the start.

Groove

The longish first half is jam-packed with riotous song and dance routines, getting the crowd tapping their toes.

De Shields' solo is amazing as the 55-year-old grooves across every inch of the stage, receiving well-deserved cheers for his exuberant performance.

Veteran British actress Dora Bryan is also introduced as pianist Jeannette Burmeister.

She fluffed her lines and missed her cues but she was still given a warm reception, and at the age of 78 she can be forgiven for coming across as slightly dotty.

Full Monty cast
Many of the cast have transferred to the West End from Broadway
The second half gets off to a slow start as the ballads about love and how tough times are performed one after another. But all formulaic musicals need their slushy numbers.

Climax

After the high-kicking exploits of the opening half, the slow songs do seem to drag.

But soon enough if is back to showstoppers and on to the climax of the show.

The music is all original and the finale does seem to cry out for Tom Jones' You Can Leave Your Hat On - as used to such great success in the movie.

The best idea for watching the musical is not to compare it to the film - the storylines are the same but that is about it.

But it is difficult not to feel disappointed that what was one of Britain's most successful films has been given such an American make-over.

That aside, the musical is full of great singers, actors and dancers and makes for a fun night out - especially for the ladies.

And do they really do The Full Monty? You will have to see for yourself.

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 ON THIS STORY
The Full Monty
"The story works just as well in the Buffalo context"
See also:

27 Nov 01 | Showbiz
Queen sees royal Full Monty
27 Oct 00 | Entertainment
The Full Monty wows Broadway
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