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Friday, 27 October, 2000, 15:51 GMT 16:51 UK
The Full Monty wows Broadway
Full Monty
The comedy is transferred from Sheffield to Buffalo
By BBC News Online's entertainment correspondent Tom Brook

A musical based on The Full Monty, one of the most successful British films ever made, has opened on Broadway to strong reviews and a rapturous reception from the opening night audience.

The 1997 British film, which told the story of out of work Sheffield steelworkers who strip to raise some cash, has been transformed into a loud $7m American song and dance extravaganza.

Full Monty
Applause: First night reviews have been excellent
The powerful New York Times theatre critic Ben Brantley said the transfer to the stage was a great success.

He said the musical had an "ear-catching pop score" and that The Fully Monty on stage had become "a rare aggressive crowd-pleaser that you don't have to apologise for liking".

In a series of musical numbers, a cast of virtual unknowns act out the story familiar to to the thousands who bought tickets for the film version.

The location has been changed from Sheffield to Buffalo in upstate New York, but the themes of the movie remain intact with emasculated out-of-work and out-of-shape men venting their angst in song.

Broadway veteran Terrence McNally who wrote the book for the musical said his adaptation is more than just a slavish copy of the story in the film.

He said there were "certain things that I remember from the movie that I didn't want to do again in the theatre, I wanted to find a new way of looking at the same story".


Among the differences between the musical and the film is that the homophobia of one of the leading characters has been accentuated, and a gay relationship hinted at in the movie has been made explicit.

Also, new characters have been added and the women's roles have been strengthened.

Full Monty
Stronger female roles have been added to the stage version
Lindsay Law, the producer of the Broadway show said: "The wives and girlfriends of our main cast play a more important role in showing us who these guys are, and they help us increase our affection for them."

The opening night crowd was over the top with its praise, with some coming back to see the musical for a fourth time in several weeks of previews.

Theatergoers seem to appreciate the humour and the songs, which are brought to life by a talented ensemble cast.

The music and lyrics are the work of David Yazbek, a Broadway newcomer who has a background as a pop singer and songwriter.

Comedy writer

Yazbek also once worked as a writer penning comedic gags for David Letterman's late night TV talk show.

Yazbek described his style as "eclectic, pop, rock with a tip of the hat to (Broadway musical veteran) Frank Loesser and the British band XTC - my favourite band".

Even if the Broadway show is a box office triumph it will be difficult for it to match the astounding success of the film.

The 1997 movie was made for $3.5m and according to latest figures has grossed more than $250m world-wide.
The cast strip to their underwear
Crude: The humour is often coarse and puerile

The Full Monty musical has been heavily promoted in New York and a major selling point has been the promise of on-stage nudity.

Cast members were coy when asked whether theatre-goers - paying up to $86 dollars - actually get to see full frontal nudity.

The response of Patrick Wilson, who plays one of the leads, was "Well it's not called the half Monty now, is it!"

In fact, there is a fleeting glimpse, a millisecond of male genitalia during the finale, but the view is quickly obscured by a strong backlight.


Overall the Full Monty is not a particularly erotic show, but at times it is quite crude.

Some have found the stage show a rather crass and mechanical vehicle that does not contain the subtlety and keen social observation that gave the film its soul.

The Full Monty is not a great American musical. Indeed some of the lyrics are extremely silly, the jokes are puerile and much of the humour is lame.

The creators may not have delivered an artistic triumph but they have brought Broadway a genuine crowd-pleaser that shows every sign of being a big hit.

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See also:

17 May 00 | Entertainment
Monty writer stripped of ideas
15 Feb 00 | Entertainment
Full Monty star sent to Coventry
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