Hats off to this spectacular musical version of The Full Monty as everyone involved has indeed gone all the way to give the audience a great night out.

This terrific male-macho musical had everyone in hysterics as six out-of-work guys seek a quick buck and ego boost by letting it all hang out like the Chippendales. And these Average Joes hoping for a big payday made the show work as they captured the hearts of the audience with their posing pouches and flashes of flesh!

The screen-to-stage adaption takes the unemployed steelworkers from Yorkshire, England, to Buffalo in New York and it works - even with a drop down and fold away industrial set.

The unlikely group of strippers are an endearing and loveable group of typically masculine guys you could meet anywhere. They were real men with real lives - who best of all, gave us all a real good laugh.

The 'studs' were cast perfectly as ordinary and realistic men - with 'pimples on their asses' and all! There was the ringleader desperate to continue seeing his son, the self-conscious overweight, the black man who can dance, the former boss/dance teacher who hasn't told his seemingly materialistic wife he's out of work and the other two guys - one well-endowed and one a mummy's boy - who fall in love with each other.

You end up feeling good about life in quite a profound way as the musical shows what unemployment can do to families, and drums home the importance of acceptance, love and communication.

Excellent cast

The cast were top-notch, both individually and as a tight-knit ensemble, and need congratulating for having the guts to bare all.

Mike Hind displayed some fine acting, singing and dancing in the leading role of Jerry Lukowski which seemed to rub off on his five fellow strippers. And Jerry's heart-warming friendship with likeable Dave Butatinsky (the excellent Leon Waye) made the show. Harold Nicholas (Alan Gilbertson) gave us a great performance as he reluctantly opened up and showed us the stripper in him, 'Horse' (Marvin Ford) proved he was born to be on the stage with moves like that, Ethan Girard (Dion Ming) was hilarious with his obsession with dancing on walls and you just wanted to take Malcolm MacGregor (Matthew Nester) home with you! The various wives and a great gay Chippendales stripper (Che Barker) were also superb as they delivered their lines with perfection. Daniel Maguire, who plays Nathan Lukowski, Jerry's 12-year-old son, has the stage presence of a seasoned veteran.

And a quite different character was Jeanette Burmeister (Jenny Burrell) who comes out of retirement to be the group's pianist and all-round mother figure. Burrell was a joy to watch with great comedic timing.

The hilarious audition scene alone was worth the price of admission Although the sell-out crowd at the City Hall didn't need much encouragement, when they weren't laughing and cheering they were happy to join in the chants of 'Buffalo men go all the way!" The slightest wiggle of the hips or pelvic thrust was enough to start them off and thanks to his stardom in the Lindo's commercials, Dai James only had to walk onto the stage to get everyone laughing.

The show was bursting with catchy songs with 13 pop-rock-jazz numbers where the tightly-woven lyrics really hit home. The entertaining score, although not instantly recognisable, was definitely a winner and at two-and-half-hours long it didn't drag for a minute.

The show has to be seen to be believed as where else would you find a fat, unemployed steel worker singing a touching love song to his beer belly as well as a black guy singing about his penis size? The audience loved the rollercoaster journey of emotions from the most fired up numbers to the loving heart-warming moments when Jerry (Hind) sang to his sleeping son.

Marvin Ford ('Horse') took the audience to the edge with his rendition of Big Black Man - he belted out the tune while gyrating, bumping and grinding.

Big Ass Rock about suicide methods made a mockery of the most unlikely subject matter with one of funniest songs of the evening. Whereas You Rule My World and its reprise were especially touching.

The triumphant finale was what we had all been waiting for and by then the characters felt more like our friends. The six losers had become six winners and they showed us they could move even as supposedly left-footed amateurs.

The clever use of lighting must have proved a much-welcome relief to the six men standing in all their glory for that full-frontal it's time to bare all moment. The nudity was tasteful enough not to offend even the most prudish churchgoer in the crowd. Let's hear it for the lights being in good working order!

The Full Monty is a must-see show that promises to bring the audience to its feet as it gets down to the bare-necessities of musical comedy. Don't settle for anything less, go The Full Monty.

The Full Monty continues at City Hall nightly at 8pm until Saturday, October 18. The City Hall box office is open from 12pm to 2pm Monday to Friday and one hour before each performance. Call 292-2313 or visit www.boxoffice.bm