Stripping good fun

The Full Monty: Ipswich Operatic and Dramatic Society, Spa Pavilion Theatre, Felixstowe (until Saturday, October 12)There are parts of the Ipswich Operatic and Dramatic Society where the sun doesn't shine.

The Full Monty: Ipswich Operatic and Dramatic Society, Spa Pavilion Theatre, Felixstowe (until Saturday, October 12)

There are parts of the Ipswich Operatic and Dramatic Society where the sun doesn't shine. In this show, fleetingly, it does. Will they or won't they reveal all is what's meant to keep us on tenterhooks.

What came as a surprise, possibly because the British film was so good, was that the stage musical is set in Buffalo, New York State and not Sheffield in Yorkshire.

The British film's stage musical follow-up, I'd forgotten, was American, the show Americanised. No matter, you soon get used to it and it's a night of exuberant fun with a bittersweet core.


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It's about a community where a big employer folds. All round town self-esteem slumps and everyone's individual demons come to the fore.

There's Jerry (Jonathan Mudd) who'll lose his son if he keeps defaulting on maintenance payments, Harold (Roger Jackaman) the manager who hides the truth from his wife. The range of anxieties includes being overweight, gay, and old - whatever. When confidence is down, everything's a problem.

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Then, when the men's wives have a girls' night out entertained by a male stripper, the idea is sown. It's time for the blokes to get their act together, do a strip themselves and make some cash. At last they have a goal, need to get organised, rely on each other and together hold their nerve. But it isn't easy.

Much of the mood of the show comes from the chorus of raunchy wives.

The most hilarious scene early on comes when Jerry and his plump friend Dave (David Crane) have broken in to the theatre to see what the girls' night is all about. They've got into the men's loo when to their horror - the women pile in thinking there are no men about, and the two men hide in a cubicle listening to raucous girl talk.

There's plenty of good comedy in the scenes where they are auditioning to the six strippers. Then there are the rehearsals - hopeless at first but improving. Most have serous misgivings and some nearly pull out of the whole idea.

Some performances to note - Margaret Mudd as the wisecracking old rehearsal pianist with her hair ever in curlers; and David Crane, Samantha Horsfield, Jonathan Mudd and Jane Bowen to pick out a few. It's a show that holds its tension until the very last revelation.

Ivan Howlett

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