The ST Life! gave it a glowing review. My friend’s friends who had seen it said it was laughter throughout. Yet, as I sat watching George Chan prance around in a red thong as a member of Chippendale in the opening act, I felt a strange distaste in my mouth. Am I turning into a prude?
I watched the movie, an English version, with my ICI colleagues in 1997 and the same lady who had sat beside me last night. We enjoyed the movie ten years ago, earning the jibe from our boss when he discovered that his team of sales people had watched The Full Monty without him. He would had love to have watch it with us. Perhaps like him, the 30% males in the audience thought the same thing. (They were discribed by Adrain Pang, the male lead, as ‘brave’.) The women were there in large groups, most expecting to have an enjoyable time, probably thinking it as another Chippendale performance.
While the English movie (if I remembered correctly) was sensitive and humourous (in their crisp English way), this musical was based on an American script and set in Buffalo. The results – crass, brash and at times tasteless. One may reason that this is afterall about naked men stripping on stage, isn’t that expected? Well, no, not according to the storyline. Why does one of the women, a middle-age, needs to try urinating standing up in the male’s loo? One would expect that behaviour of a teenager, not a middle age women.
Here is the story line: The men working in the mill in Buffalo were laid off and seeing how women would actually pay $50 to watch men strip on stage, they decided to make a quick buck doing the same thing. When Jerry (Pang), a divorced father fighting to keep joint custody of his son, asked Keno (George Chan), a Chippendale stripper, if he thought Jerry would look sexy doing the same thing, Keno replied, "Funny, scary even, but not sexy." Nevertheless, Jerry recruited his five ex-colleagues to do the show with him (the other jobs being packer and security at Walmart.) How to attract the women to watch old, fat and skinny men strip? Do niche marketing – go the full monty. The laughters were generated mostly from the men trying to do sexy moves and appearing in various designs of underwears. The finale is when the men appeared in the actual show stripped down to the red "almost leather" thongs. Then the audience were cajoled into cheering for the men to go full monty when they chickened out. The men did, but unfortunately, or fortunately in my case, we were blinded by the spotlights and thus missed the sight.
On the positive side, the child Nathan (Pang’s sons who took turns acting) acted well. The singing by the cast, including Adrain and Hosan Leong was surprisingly good.
At the end of the show, the men appeared in robes for the final bow, whereby some women called out "encore"! Adrain asked, "Is that Hokkien? tng kor? (remove pants?)" He then appealed to us to spread the message to get more people to go watch the show.
So, are you going?