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The Full Monty’s got the goods!

Kirsten Han

Men getting naked. Stripping. Thongs, bums and nudity. That’s usually what comes first to people’s minds when The Full Monty is brought up in conversation. But Pangdemonium! Productions’ The Full Monty (a first for both the company and for Singapore) shows us all that there is much more to the story than pelvic thrusts.

Running from the 18th of June to the 4th of July at the Drama Centre Theatre (National Library), The Full Monty is a fun and feel-good musical, adapted from the popular 1997 British comedy film of the same name. Instead of being in Sheffield, England, the story has been shifted to Buffalo in the United States, but other than that it pretty much stays the same. The steel plants in Buffalo have been shut down, causing mass unemployment and desperation spreading through the working class males. Six men, disempowered, depressed and demoralised, take inspiration from the popularity of Chippendale’s and decide to turn to stripping for one night – and one night only – to make a quick buck. Through this madcap scheme, themes of love, friendship and redemption are explored alongside catchy, jazz-inspired songs.

Picking this show as its first-ever production was a good move for Pangdemonium!. After all, the name is already well-known and the film already a pop classic. It is just the sort of feel-good show with broad, relatable themes that is accessible and appealing to everyone, young and old.

Adrian Pang, co-artistic director of the company which he set up with his wife, takes on the lead role of Jerry Lukowski (played on Broadway by Patrick Wilson of Watchmen and The Phantom of the Opera fame) opposite his real-life sons Zachary and Xander, who are taking turns to play the role of Nathan. He was just the right mix of cocky and desperate, obnoxious and comical. Andy Hockley played Jerry’s best friend Dave, self-conscious yet endearing, while sporting Monsters Inc. underpants. Daniel Jenkins made a perfect Harold, the ex-supervisor keeping his retrenchment a secret from his spendthrift wife, while Ebi Shankara as Horse showed the audience why people love a “big black man”.

But while Pang, who left Mediacorp in March, might have got the meatiest role, Hossan Leong and Lim Yu-Beng (as Malcolm and Ethan respectively) got the best song of the show: a poignant duet entitled You Walk With Me that was simply beautiful.

Although the ending was without a doubt the best moment, the whole production boasted such real and likeable characters speaking such funny lines that it was impossible not to be involved and engaged. As Pang himself remarked in his Facebook update after the opening night performance, “[The] audience were laughing their heads off, clapping along to the music, crying, screaming, and at the curtain call, everyone in the auditorium was on their feet cheering!” It was very much the same the next night (when I attended) as well, so easy it was for the audience to feel like part of the show. I personally noticed the elderly lady next to me go from arms crossed and apprehensive throughout the first number to cat-calling and whooping by the end!

The polished nature of the production is testament to the amount of experience, professionalism and talent of the people involved. Everything from the music, the sets, the lighting, to the acting exceeded all my expectations and set a very high standard for all future Pangdemonium! productions.

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Details of shows and bookings on the Sistic website.

Join the Pangdemonium Facebook page here.

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A light-hearted video of Adrian Pang getting waxed for the show.