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BWW Review: THE FULL MONTY at Sarpborg Scene – 'Bares' it All and Suceeds

Overall this is a very impressive production of "The Full Monty" and being a local show this is especially pleasing.

BWW Review: THE FULL MONTY at Sarpborg Scene – 'Bares' it All and Suceeds

BWW Review: THE FULL MONTY at Sarpborg Scene – 'Bares' it All and Suceeds The Full Monty is curious musical. While being essentially a raunchy comedy about six guys who decides to become strippers to escape unemployment and economical despair, it also have the potential to be deeply moving. When done right! And this new production presented in Sarpsborg has done just that... for the most part.

The Americanized musical stage version adapted from the 1997 British film of the same name is now "Norwegianized" setting the plot to a Norwegian community very similar to where the musical is performed. To not confuse my English readers I will refer to the characters by their original names.

Director Martine Tufvesson Lundberg has chosen to infuse her version of the show with heavy use of realism, with only the occasional use of show gimmicks. The acting is the down to earth and the performers dares to show more than just their birthday suit. While yet its central relationship is a very sweet one between a dad and his adolescent daughter (played by an adorable April Hop), there are lots of moments where I was also very moved by other characters, if not more so. Their vulnerability is honest and heartfelt, especially during "You Rule My World" where Dave, brilliantly played by Lasse Vermeli, undresses in front of the mirror and struggles with how he can be the husband he feels his wife disserves. Also the character of Malcolm has a powerful and poignant journey in this show. From being suicidal with a very imposing mother to accepting his sexuality and finding love. The latter is enhanced in this version so it is no longer played for shock value like it was in when it first opened.

From the above paragraph you would think this is a tragedy, but it is definitely a comedy, but it's true power is in the balancing act between being comedic and serious. That is the brilliance of the late Terrence McNally.

BWW Review: THE FULL MONTY at Sarpborg Scene – 'Bares' it All and Suceeds

The shows protagonist is Jerry, played by Erik-André Hvidsten. While I feel for what Jerry is trying to achieve, he is in many ways a character is rather hard to empathies with. He is a relic of yesterday's thinking, and it took a while for me to be won over. But Hvidsten shows a great drive and tremendous energy. The comedy lands well, and the comradery with Lasse Vermeli's Dave is great to witness. Vermeli delivery of the punches is always spot on, and like I said he gives a very honest performance. The same can be said for Philip Bøckmann as Malcolm, and his rendition of "You Walk with Me" was a true highlight for me. Frank Skovrand as the middle-class aspirant Harold was very fun, and full of energy, although his diction could be a little off at times. Morten Milde's "Horse" brought the house down with his audition number and Ethan is no longer trying to run up the walls, as Ulrik Tangen made this rather underwritten character more three dimensional than I have seen in prior productions.

As for the ladies, there is no shortage of talent. Monica Hjelle as Janet steals the show every time she has a line, and it is evident she loves every second of it. Her version of "Jeanette's Showbiz Number" is now a true showbiz even throwing in a little vibes from "Chicago" as a treat. It is not often I review two shows in a week that has two of the same performers in it, but both Malin Schavenius (Georgie) and Aina Beate Gundersen (Wicky) are both in this production and "Skatten på sjørøverøya" in Oslo. I wonder what parts they are playing next week? Hehe. Both get to show off their great vocal talents in " It's a Woman's World" and " Life With Harold" respectively. Ann Christin Elverum is probably one of the country's most successful international musical theatre performers, so her doing a role that is more rooted in acting and less in singing is refreshing, and her acting is honest and strong. Brava!

everyone here is on the same page. The ensemble gives it their all, and although not all of them are professional I kept forgetting that, only occasionally was I reminded of that with some off line readings and diction.

This show presents a challenge since it takes place in a wide variety of indoor and outdoor locations, none of which naturally suggests beautiful imagery or visual interest. Designer Simen Gloppen has done a stellar job designing this show with a construction based design three stories high, used to full effect, and the LED lights was a very nice touch used to great effect. The costumes are also based in reality, and works really well in conjunction with the design.

My biggest two gripes with this production is the attempt to bring David Yazbek's brass heavy score into the electronical age. I understand the need to scale down the amount of musicians in a production like this, and also changing the orchestration, but this goes beyond that since, in many cases it often changes the feel of the music and especially the beats. The second is that the sound gets too muffled. Lots of lyrics gets lost, mostly due to the acoustics of the theatre, so not a fault of this production but it lessens some of the overall impression as a result, which is sad since there is so much to like about what has been done here.

Overall this is a very impressive production of "The Full Monty" and being a local show this is especially pleasing. The show plays its final performance this weekend, but I really hope this isn't the end for this production.

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From This Author - Christian Ranke