Director and choreographer Martyn Knight returns to The Haymarket this month after his award-winning BATS production of Sister Act.
He and his team, including musical director Julie Dance, now have something new for Basingstoke audiences, namely their 1980s-set version of the amateur stage treatment of the 1997 film The Full Monty, the hugely popular tale of a group of Sheffield blokes who reclaim some of their lost power and dignity by, ironically, getting their kit off.
Its message remains pertinent, and its combination of politics and comedy may prove a welcome tonic for many after the roller coaster of the year so far.
Kathy May-Miller is also terrific as the characterful piano player who supports the men through their dreadful early rehearsals.
Martyn, in addition to the rest of his good work, cleverly uses his supporting cast to become the whooping audience at certain points.
His show is obviously one for the adults due to the language and nudity (bare bottoms) but those appropriate audiences who do attend will surely find their spirits lifted by its cheeky charm!
The action takes place in the US, but retains the core message. And where the original made great use of pop songs such as You Can Leave Your Hat On, this treatment boasts all-new numbers by David Yazbek and Terrence McNally.
It’s hats off to the brave local amateur actors who dare to bare (their blushes spared at the key moment by clever lighting design) on stage for our entertainment: Paul Morris, John Eddie, Richard Bond, Ian Moseley, Bryn Hughes and Tim Bell.
Some are unconventional leading men, but all are fully deserving of the spotlight, communicating the frustrations of these individuals (frustrations sometimes expressed through their language) and winning over those watching in both the comic and the more serious scenes.
Gavin Brooker also deserves a mention for his bravery in the role of the performer who originally inspires the men and whose stripping routine opens the whole shebang.
But the boys don’t have it all their own way throughout, as the show includes some lovely moments for the girls to shine; Holly Reedman, Sally Manning and Laura Newborough are brilliantly effective as the present and former spouses trying to support their men in crisis.