Review: Let It Go! The Full Monty (Musical)

*** This is a personal review and is no way sponsor by Viva Atlantis ***

I haven’t been to a musical for a while. I wanted to watch one at least once every few months if there was one that catches my fancy. We all need a bit of fun and culture in our lives. Musical theater, in the Philippines is not as popular as the Kpop boybands concert scene which I regret immensely. Last month I chanced upon an ad at Philippine Star about Viva Atlantis doing The Full Monty Musical . I was like. I MUST see this show! I started sending messages to my musical enthusiastic friend Chet.

The 1997 British comedy-drama film the musical was based was nominated best picture in the Academy Awards. It stars the very young Robert Carlyle or to mr Rumple in Once Upon a Time. I love the movie! The characters are so real, vulnerable and relatable. With the premiss of desperate unemployed steel workers in need of money to hold a strip show to earn some quick cash, Directed by Peter Cattaneo, The film is set in Sheffield, England, and it tells the story of six unemployed men, four of them former steel workers, who decide to form a male striptease act (à la Chippendale dancers) in order to gather enough money to get somewhere else and for main character, Gaz, to be able to see his son. Gaz declares that their show will be better than the Chippendales dancers because they will go “the full monty” — strip all the way — hence the film’s title. Despite being a comedy, the film also tackles subjects such as unemployment, fathers’ rights, depression, impotence, homosexuality, obesity, working class culture, suicide and reversal of roles, men as sex objects.

The Full Monty is a musical with a book by Terrence McNally (Kiss of the Spiderwoman) and score by David Yazbek. In this Americanized musical stage version adapted from the 1997 British film of the same name, six unemployed Buffalo steelworkers, low on both cash and prospects, decide to present a strip act at a local club after seeing their wives’ enthusiasm for a touring company of Chippendales. One of them, Jerry, declares that their show will be better than the Chippendales dancers because they’ll go “the full monty” — strip all the way. As they prepare for the show, working through their fears, self-consciousness, and anxieties, they overcome their inner demons and find strength in their camaraderie. In the musical version a new character was added, the very witty and very old Hollywood veteran artist Jeanette Burmeister, also known as the 7th Monty. She is a stanch critic of the guys and does not mince words.

The moment my friends and I entered the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium we knew we we in for a treat. To be perfectly frank, I choose to watch The Fully Monty Musical (Philippines) not because of the cast although they had an interesting lead cast. With singer Mark Bautista as Jerry Lukowski, veteran thespian Jamie Wilson as Dave Bukatsky, TV Host Arnel Ignacio as Harold Nichols, Recording artist OJ Mariano as Malcom MacGregor, Niño Alejandro as Ethan Girard, Romantic Ballader Marco Sison as Noah Horse Simmons.

The seat plan for Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium from the Viva Atlantis Theatrical website.

My ticket cost 1442.00php for the Lodge for the matinee. The Balcony seats were sold out. Not really surprised since we were supposed to watch the day before but all the Friday tickets were sold out!

Playbill cost 300php. Other than information about the Cast and crew I would have liked the playbill to have background on the characters they played and their opinion and feelings about the said characters 😅.

Jamie Wilson rules! I love how natural, heartfelt and restrained his portrayal of Dave is. Such a sweet loving guy who loves his wife to pieces. I became a fan! Scheduled to watch him in the repeat of Rock of Ages in July!
Jay Valencia-Glorioso as the awesome Jeanette Burmeister. This lady knows how to pleases crowd. How to throw a line to get you roaring with laughter.
Ima Castro, as Vicki Nichols
blew us away. I didn’t know it was her at first coz I haven’t found the time to get the playbill but damn this girl can do it all sing and act! I wonder why producers are not lining up to book her! She has come a long way from the innocent Kim of Ms. Saigon. “Take it off Harold!”
Mark Bautista, to be frank, I didn’t really expect much from him other than the uber nice bod and great pipes. But he is headlining this show I wanted to see a bit of depth, he needs to work on developing this before his next musical. Just saying.
Niño Alejandro gained tons of weight. Really. I hardly recognized him. He sweated the entire time he was on stage. I know he’s suppose to be the “Godzilla” ( the guy with the largest asset) of the group, I can’t help compare him to the film version…buff and a bit ditzy. The ditzy part he got on pat but the buff ugh…next! I know this is his first acting gig, so I will forgive him.
Marco Sison, I know that casting for the African American Horse is going to tough for TFM Phil Director Chari Areapacohanga. Casting Marco Sison made me scratch my head. I don’t see it. Even when he was on stage I didn’t see it. He may have colored his hair white but that it where it ends. The demeanor and the way he carried himself I didn’t feel him grooving as a black dude. The song Big Black Man…not really suitable.

I watched snippet videos of the TFM Broadway performance as well as some foreign versions…the Korean version with TV comedian Jung Jun-ha as Dave was especially entertaining. The choreography and way they sang the songs was almost the same. This is not necessarily a bad thing mind you, I do wished they would have a Filipino language version of the TFM like they did in other counties but this is just me wishfully thinking about the awesomeness of such a performance. Also at the finale well I kinda wish they did that the same as the original counter parts…no matter how big the shock value is or maybe because of the shock value. You have to note that this Musical is mostly for 18 and above mainly because of the verbal profanity.

What I loved about the performance, other than the notable acting by my favorites, is awesome rendition of the songs. I have nothing but praise for their voices. The TFM Phil cast should record an album coz I’d buy it. For now I settled for the Broadway Recording of the Original Cast of The Full Monty courtesy of my Kpop aficionado friend Manu.
You can browse here for the lyrics
I played the OST of the TFM Musical the whole day after watching it and I even got my children humming along with the songs. Which are hilarious and heartfelt at the same time.

(Photo Viva Atlantis)
The Full Monty the Musical is not just about ordinary men taking their clothes off to earn quick cash. It’s about role reversal…Men as objects of lust and ridicule (mostly because of body image) usually experienced by women. Men finally realizing that appearances are not everything. Humor is so very much a part of this musical, they laugh at their misfortune, their embarrassment and their insecurity. There are heartfelt moments that got me teary eyed. A father doing everything he can to keep seeing his son, a boy who shows unwavering belief in his father, a son saying good-bye his is mother, husbands trying to express their love for their wives no matter what the cost. It’s about relationships, friendships, love, and realizing that when you start something and work hard at it you MUST see it through the end. This is the reason why I love this musical, and based on the crowd that matinee showing last May 4, like me they were cheering the guys on until the very end.

I watch the musical in it’s 2nd to the last day run. It was fun and I enjoyed it immensely.

Oh yeah, you might be wondering…did the TFM Phil cast take it all off in the end? Oh they did…and you guys missed it. 😝


Until next time
Muah- joeydragonlady 🐉

For information about their Musicals : Viva Atlantis Theatricals

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