REVIEW: The Full Monty

When The Full Monty hit cinemas in 1997, I had just started high school and I was too young to see the Sheffield-based comedy on the big screen.

But when I got my hand on the VHS copy (I’m still old enough to remember them!) I instantly adored the working class steel workers and their mission to earn a bob or two “tekkin us clothes off” and it fast became a favourite.
The small budget movie, made on a budget of $3m, turned into a worldwide phenomenon taking $250m at the box office and now screenwriter, Simon Beaufoy has adapted his own script to the stage, which began at The Lowry Theatre, Salford.
The story follows Gaz and his steelworker pals, who have fallen on hard times under the Thatcher government. At a loose end and trying to stay afloat, the hapless father and the group of unlikely heroes turn their attention to stripping. 
Most of the action takes place against an impressive backdrop of the abandoned steelworks, providing a gritty rawness much needed to set off the warm, comedic roles played so brilliantly by the cast. 
Leading man, Kenny Doughty and youngster Travis Caddy have instant on-stage chemistry as the father and son duo, Gaz and Nathan and the supporting cast are just as flawless. 
Roger Morlidge (Dave), Simon Rouse (Gerald), Sidney Cole (Horse), and Kieran O’Brien (Guy), bring many tears of laughter throughout the night but it is Coronation Street alumni, Craig Gazey (Lomper) who really steals the show. 
However Caroline Carver’s wooden role as Mandy left much of the audience in tears of the other kind.
The Full Monty is hilarious, heartwarming and downright raunchy; a perfect antidote to a Monday school night. 
The Full Monty runs at The Lowry Theatre, Salford until April 20 

INTERVIEW: Singing all the way to Nashville

Continuing the theme of inspirational teens, I interviewed a phenomenal singer/songwriter, Amy-Jo Clough last week.

Beautiful, talented and with a voice to die for, (I’m not at all jealous) Amy-Jo is destined for stardom. 

You saw her here first.

While most 15-year-olds will be spending their summer taking a well-earned break from their GCSE exams, one young lady from Bolton-le-Sands, Carnforth, will spend hers paving the way for her future.

Amy-Jo Clough will be jetting off to Nashville, Tennesse in America after being spotted as she sang as the guest singer at the Miss Galaxy beauty pageant at Park Hall Hotel, Charnock Richard.

Amy-Jo says, “I was performing five songs a night for four nights, while the judges went off to deliberate the overall winners.
“On the third night I was offered the chance to go out to Nashville to work with some songwriters and to do some recording.”

For the Carnforth High School student, the opportunity to spend summer in America’s music capital, home to Dolly Parton, Keith Urban, Taylor Swift and Garth Brooks, to name but a few, is the opportunity of a lifetime.
“I’m really excited, it’s a place I’ve always wanted to go and my friends are really excited about me going too,” says Amy-Jo, who has been singing professionally since she was 11 years old. “They keep saying ‘that’s where Taylor Swift is from’ and all that sort of stuff, they’re really supportive.”
ImageAmy-Jo, who performed at Preston Christmas lights switch on in front of 10,000 people, will spend three weeks in Nashville, accompanied by her mum and dad, recording, writing and researching open mic nights to get her music known.
And it looks as though it won’t be long until her self-penned songs will be on radio playlists around the country after her song, ‘Sorry For’ was played on BBC Radio Lancashire; a moment Amy-Jo describes as “really weird but really cool at the same time.”
“I want to record a whole album of my own songs” she adds, “I’m halfway doing that, I have eight finished and a lot more half written.
“The songs I write are quite country but the songs I cover are soul like Amy Winehouse, Etta James and Adele, so a bit of mix really.”
At the moment Amy-Jo is busy revising for her exams but continues to write her own music on her guitar and piano, both of which she taught herself to play two years ago.
Something her brothers, aged 21 and 26, are both pleased about.
“My brothers get annoyed at me singing around the house all the time,” she laughs, “but I think they like it really.

She is also looking forward to supporting Britain’s Got Talent finalists, Re-Connected in May, who are currently at number 32 in the UK charts and continues to be the guest singer for Miss England, rounds take place across the North West for the rest of the year.
For more about Amy-Jo, visit her YouTube video here to listen to some of her music.