It’s more than 20 years since The Full Monty stole the nation’s hearts on the big screen – and the play of the Brit flick remains a huge hit with audiences up and down the country.
Taking the story of the redundant Sheffield steelworkers who hatch a desperate plan to earn some money by becoming a group of male strippers and placing it on the theatre stage is indeed a masterstroke. For the audience get to live their stories, cheer their journey and ultimately become the whooping and cheering audience in the Sheffield working men’s club as the “Buns of Steel” amateurs boldly make their debut.
The play is back in Manchester this week for what is billed as the final run of this current production – and if you haven’t yet had chance to see it, you really ought to.
It will make you laugh, it might even make you cry, but it will undoubtedly send you out of the theatre on an exhilarating high.
It sees former Footballers’ Wives star Gary Lucy back in swaggering form to lead his band of unlikely troubadours as Gaz – the Sheffield dad doing all he can to raise some maintenance money so he can keep seeing his son Nathan (a brilliant performance from the young Fraser Kelly).
But this is one of those productions where there’s not just one star – the entire unlikely gang of men all have their moment to shine on stage, and wiggle in time to the likes of Hot Stuff and You Sexy Thing.
Corrie star Louis Emerick as Horse near steals the show in the first half with his hip-swivelling hi-jinks, former Emmerdaler Joe Gill puts in a tender and humourous turn as loner Lomper, Kai Owen is the perfect sidekick to Gaz as Dave, Andrew Dunn becomes snobby Gerald to a tee, while James Redmond as Guy… well, what a guy.
The show is directed by former Coronation Street star Rupert Hill, who starred in the original production back in 2014. He has a clear understanding and appreciation of its dramatic highs, lows and pulling it all together with pace and an intriguing selection of 80s classics to set the scene.
It probably goes without saying that the show does contain some nudity – but at its heart is the stories of men, women and the universal struggles we all face being laid bare on stage.
Opening night in Manchester was given a standing ovation from the cheering crowds – and I’ve no doubt that will be replicated across the week for this triumph of a production that really is Hot Stuff.
The Full Monty is at the Manchester Opera House until Saturday 23rd February.