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I had forgotten how much I liked The Full Monty as a show, it is nicely written and has some lovely music, all of which HMTC did justice to.

It was a move away from the more traditional shows that were HLOS’s norm, and the name change to Harpenden Musical Theatre Company signalled a change in direction, which I hope has paid off for the Society, and shows that sometimes a different view can do a Society good, particularly when it turned out to be a really good production, and not just a concentration on the reveal at the end!

The set was designed and built by Robert Hemmin, including the impressive light boxes and effect for the strip, in conjunction with lighting designer Fred Rayment.  The car and backcloths were hired in, but everything else was provided by the Society, and worked well in the main.

Lighting was good throughout, apart from at the start when Georgie was doing her introduction, and it seemed as if she was moving but the spot wasn’t, a shame as she had to keep moving stage right to be lit, not sure where the error was!

Sound was good, always a problem in the Halls, but the balance between stage and pit was spot on, well done Graham Elliott and Aidan Brown.  Beth Thomas had a good sounding band who accompanied well, she’d got the cast to think about what they were singing, so we had expressiveness and understanding, along with good harmonies.

I was impressed with both the performance and technical side of this production, and thoroughly enjoyed all aspects.  This is the first time I have seen a show directed by Mike Payne, and I enjoyed his mostly traditional approach which flowed well.

Choreography from Katy Jane Meehan was very suitable for the feel of the piece and the capability of the performers.

Costumes were good, and what I like about HMTC is the attention to detail in all aspects, both in the actual wearing of the costumes, and the accessories including wigs.  Well done to Chris Cardy and her team.

Sam Gaines as Jerry, the main character, did the best work I have seen him do ever. The music was difficult, but Sam gave it all expression, humour, pathos and every emotion in between, whilst showing fine vocal skills. I could feel his uncertainty at having been the catalyst for the strip, but then chickening out, before realising that he needed to do it for himself and his son.  A super portrayal.

Adam Briffett was Dave, again a fine characterisation and good vocally.  His marriage problems and again irresolution, and then the realisation that he couldn’t let his mates down, was nicely achieved, and I was mightily impressed with the split jump off the table!!

Sean Johnson was the mild-mannered Mummy’s boy, who couldn’t cope with unemployment and tried to commit suicide – however, in a multi-faceted scene when Jerry and Dave save him from the car, it was not only poignant, but also humorous.  Some really good work, and then the realisation that Ethan would provide what was missing from Malcolm’s life, was lovely.  The funeral scene bringing this to the fore.

Neil Goulder played Ethan, again creating a good character, and a good empathy with Malcolm.  The most startling and funny scene was the audition when he dropped his trousers, and the look on the faces of the other guys – priceless!

Tony Khuball as Horse gave us another fine performance.  Tony can always be relied on to bring understanding to his role, and this was no exception.  

Matt Clothier completed the line up as Harold, the manager who was trying to keep his wife in the dark about his unemployment. As Harold he took on the job of getting the men to move for their performance.  I liked his characterisation.

Ben Molloy gave a good performance as Jerry’s son.  There was a good empathy between Jerry and Nathan, but they also had to contend with Teddy’s intervention, which gave their relationship another dimension.

Howard Penning as the actual stripper, Buddy, gave us a good pointer to what we would hope to expect, rippling muscles and showy poses, very well done.

Now to the wives and girlfriends, who all gave strong performances!  

Louise Thonger played Jerry’s ex-wife Pam, a nice part that Louise did justice to, both acting and singing. Her new boyfriend Teddy, (the polar opposite to Jerry) was played by Andrew Darby.  Louise gave the part plenty of sass and showed her need to try and guide her son in the right direction!

Emma Orr as Georgie was a good foil to Dave, you could feel her underlying care for him, whilst not perhaps understanding quite what his problems were.  A good three dimensional portrayal.

I really enjoyed Claire Millins who played Vicki, Harold’s wife.  Claire sang and danced well. I loved the scene when she found out Harold was jobless, and her acceptance of the situation because she loved him.  Utterly believable and appealing.

A lovely character part for Amanda Gaines, as Malcolm’s mother. A small but telling part.

What a lovely part for Mary Watkinson.  Her Jeanette was loud, funny and slightly off the wall.  A good contrast to the other ladies, exceedingly good performance.

The ensemble and other principals who played smaller parts were all good, and helped to create an overall feel that we’d seen an excellent show, with characters that were alive and real.

Harpenden Light Opera Society


review date:23rd March 2018

at Harpenden Public Halls

Director: Mike Payne

MD: Beth Thomas  Choreographer: Katy Jane Meehan


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