The Full Monty

RICHARD PARR King;s Lynn Players, Corn Exchange

RICHARD PARR

This enterprising and award-winning group has never shied away from a challenge, and its latest production is certainly one of its biggest, with a welcome venture into unfamiliar and very different musical territory.

On Wednesday's opening night it was obvious from looking around the audience that groups of women had got together for a girls' night out, but while there is naked male flesh revealed, there is much more to this show than mere sexual titillation.

Based on the phenomenally successful British film of the same name, the musical version is switched from Sheffield to Buffalo in New York, where a group of unemployed steel mill workers find carrying out a naked ambition could solve all their problems.

Unlike other popular musicals - such as Oliver!, Oklahoma! and Seven Brides - the songs are not at all familiar in Monty, and on Wednesday the balance between Sam Ashby's orchestration and the singers often seemed to have been won by the band, resulting in the lyrics not always being clearly heard.

Having said that, experienced director Sharon Fox has successfully risen to her self-confessed challenge to produce a show which is so different, particularly from a singing-style aspect, from the more conventional musicals.

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Her husband Chris follows his previous leading roles, including the players' groundbreaking Jesus Christ Superstar, in the pivotal role of Jerry, a character, who together with his beer-bellied friend Dave, played with conviction by Stephen Lindeman, attracts sympathy from the audience.

Although the story contains underlying themes about human frailty and self-respect, there is also plenty of humour (and colourful language), notably in the hilarious audition scene as the desperate prospective strippers show their worth.

In this scene, players newcomer Tony Reid as black guy Horse gives us a dazzling dance routine in The Big Man.

As to the big question of whether our chaps go all the way . . . let's just say, it's all over in a lightning flash!

The Full Monty continues tonight and tomorrow at 7.30pm.

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