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Thongs at the Kenton? Whatever can be next?
Published 22/04/14

FOR a show advertised as “We dare to Bare” this production by HAODS certainly lived up to its billing — not only for the final show-stopping display at Tony Giordano’s nightclub but also for its sheer energy. Last year we were treated to the ladies in Calendar Girls and this year it was the boys’ turn — and they all certainly took advantage to show their wares.

This stage version, transported with music from Sheffield to Buffalo, USA, shows how a handful of men rise from their misfortunes and regain their self-respect after the closure of the steel mills.

The set had just the right amount of run-down tat and the lighting was atmospheric and effective, thanks to Jerry Anderson and Derek Gilbert. The band were excellent, creating first class playing under the direction of Peter Dodsworth. I understand that Andy Smith was musical director on the night, and one small gripe is that the music was sometimes too loud for the singers.

With a cast of 27 plus one dog it is difficult to select stars as they all in their own ways managed to shine and create distinct personalities but congratulations must go to the gaggle of groupies — Katie Healy, Kelly Britton and Jennamarie Smith — who gave good vocal support for the guys. One excellent moment was Susie Longshaw attempting to use a men’s urinal.

Mike Fields as the silent tramp in the park bench scene was a master at scene stealing. Stuey Riley as Keno was perfect as the talented professional stripper, bringing new meaning to magnificent pectorals. Julie Huntington created a wonderful, wise-cracking, world-weary pianist playing honky-tonk for the guys.

The long-suffering wives were played with much pathos by Vick Lane and Katie Healy. Sam Riley, wife of Jerry gave a very rounded and thoughtful performance.

As for the mainstay of the show — the boys — they all created real characters which never once became caricatures. Wannabe masculine Ethan (Piers Burnell) hurled himself across the stage trying to emulate Donald O’Connor in Singing in the Rain, and eventually discovered his sexuality with sad, lonely Malcolm (James Pankhurst). Tim Bell made a great gammy-hipped Horse, and Paul Freeman was a pathetic Harold, too timid to inform his wife of his redundancy until the bailiffs arrived. James Lole as overweight Dave and Kevin Goodfellow as cash-strapped Jerry worked well and both sang extremely well in demanding numbers. Jerry’s son Nathan was played well by Ryan Gibson and Max Riley.

The final scene at Tony Giordano’s was a triumph as the men discarded security guards uniforms to reveal skimpy red thongs. What was revealed next? Well, I leave that to your imagination!

Thanks to director George Riddell for a wonderful night out.

PUBLISHED 22/04/14

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