Review: Opening night of The Full Monty at Buxton Opera House is filled with hilarity and joyful nostalgia

The cast of The Full Monty bust a move.The cast of The Full Monty bust a move.
The cast of The Full Monty bust a move.
We’re at the crucial moment – and as the hats are flung into the air I’m wondering how the dignity of our live cast members is going to be preserved.

But that of course would be telling. And with The Full Monty play in only it’s second run of a 25 theatre national tour the opera house audience is among the first to learn the secrets of its staging.

The journey to this moment has been joyfully riotous – with infectious laughter and whoops of appreciation reverberating around the packed stalls.

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Drawing particular admiration is Jake Quickenden (Footloose, Hair, X Factor, Dancing on Ice) as Guy – who seems to have a fanclub on this opening night.

The audience queues for the packed opening night of The Full Monty at Buxton Opera House.The audience queues for the packed opening night of The Full Monty at Buxton Opera House.
The audience queues for the packed opening night of The Full Monty at Buxton Opera House.

Jake would have been still at primary school when the original film was released just over a quarter of a century ago. However, Simon Beaufoy’s play – which steers along the same narrative arc – seems just as relevant in these cost of living crisis days.

Bringing it to the live stage was perhaps an opportunity missed at the time. The spectacle of this ‘group of lads trying to regain their dignity and pride’ as they comically attempt to fight back against their grim situation via the only route they can think of lends itself perfectly to a thronging theatre.

Whirling steel framed towers are employed on stage to draw us into the industrial underbelly of Sheffield as we meet dreamer Gaz – played by Danny Hatchard (EastEnders, Ridley Road, Our Girl, SCROOGE) and Neil Hurst (Fat Friends the Musical, All Creatures Great and Small, Coronation Street) as Dave.

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The friendship dynamic here is crucial and the performances deliver with Hurst’s vocal inflections eerily similar to his silver screen predecessor Mark Addy (he even looks facially indistinguishable to him at times) and Hatchard drawing great empathy as the tortured and brooding character previously – and currently in the new Disney Plus series - portrayed by Robert Carlyle.

It’s not just the reminder of those original actors that suck us back into the nineties – a soundtrack of classic hits from the era fill us further with nostalgia.

It seems only a brief intermission since we first watched those first unconscious and hilarious mini groin pumps in the dole queue –but this tour marks the 25th anniversary of the film.

Making up our troupe of luckless lads is Bill Ward (Coronation Street, Emmerdale, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie) as Gerald; Ben Onwukwe (The Shawshank Redemption, Professor T, Marcella) as Horse and Nicholas Prasad (Around the World in 80 Days, The Comedy of Errors, Doctors) as Lomper.

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And from their initial shambolic thrusting routines to passages of relatable drama and the climactic end there is something for a broad spectrum of theatre-goers (the show is rated 12+).

The theatre has been near full for this evening’s performance (Tuesday) and there is limited availability left for the rest of the show’s run – so act fast to get hold of tickets.

The Full Monty is a co-production between Buxton Opera House and Everyman Theatre Cheltenham.

The run at Buxton Opera House concludes on Saturday – when there will also be a matinee performance. To book, go to or call 01298 72190.

Next at the opera house the legendary production of Susan Hill’s chilling ghost story The Woman in Black comes to the theatre direct from London's West End from Tuesday, October 3.

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