The current UK tour of “The Full Monty” is the last ever of this particular production, but this is the story that keeps on giving.
Vicky Edwards spoke to the cast of “The Full Monty”, who bared all ahead of the production visiting Darlington Hippodrome from Monday, November 12th, 2018.
“Hollyoaks” and “Eastenders” star Gary Lucy, who plays Gaz, said: “It is special. People really love it. From proper theatregoers in Cambridge to Blackpool hen parties, everyone has an absolute ball. It is a gift of a role for me.”
Louis Emerick, recently on our screens in “Coronation Street”, concurs. He said: “This is the third tour for me and it really is a special show.
“It is a great story that still resonates now. They are also a lovely company to work and travel with.”
Telling the story of six out-of-work steelworkers from Sheffield who put on a strip show to raise much-needed cash, the film went on to become one of the most successful British movies of all time.
Writer of both the screenplay and the stage script, Simon Beaufoy is also the talent behind “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” and “Slumdog Millionaire.”
“Emmerdale” star Joe Gill (Lomper) believes the play’s credibility is key to its success: “It is my first time on the show but everyone knows how iconic it is and what a culture it has, so they come knowing that they will enjoy it.”
Another “The Full Monty” virgin is James Redmond, who has done lengthy stints in “Hollyoaks” and “Casualty” but has never toured in a stage play before. However, that doesn’t stop him recognising the show’s broad appeal.
“We can all relate to it and it is very moving,” he said. “The poverty these guys lived in; Maggie Thatcher encouraged them to buy their council houses and then closed the steelworks so they were desperate.
“It’s a heart-warming story that still feels relevant today. Because half of us voted remain and half voted leave none of us know what the future holds.”
Liz Carney who plays Jean, adds: “It appeals to men and women of all ages and from all classes. The girls in the play tell their own story, so audiences connect with them too.”
Amy Thompson (Mandy) agrees, adding: “And the thing that I find really special is that it gets people coming to the theatre who haven’t been before.”
Kai Owen, best known for roles including Rhys in “Torchwood” and Pete in “Hollyoaks”, returns to the role of Dave and admits that he loves the audience reaction.
“They may start shouting at the start, but this isn’t Dream Boys or The Chippendales and as soon as they realise that it is a story they settle down.
“It is so well written that they get immersed and carried along until the end. Then everyone goes crazy!”
“The Full Monty” is a play that covers a huge range of modern issues and unemployment themes including financial insecurity, mental health, divorce, sexuality and body image; the mix of comedy, pathos, warmth and sadness is perfectly balanced.
However, there’s also a lot more on show, with the boys getting naked. Recounting the first ‘undress’ rehearsal in 2014, Louis said: “I’m sure we’ll break Joe and James in gently.
“We had only been rehearsing for three days and we hardly knew each other. But we did it, although we all looked each other firmly in the eye!
“From then on it was pretty easy. It’s much more of a man’s story in many ways and it is great when you see blokes in the audience..
“Dinnerladies” star Andrew Dunn added: “It is done really well on stage, although you do have to trust the lighting technicians, and some venues do have slow-closing curtains.”
The tour is scheduled to go up and down the country, visiting venues in Sheffield, Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow.
James Redmond said: “I’ve been on stand-up circuit for nine years and I do like to explore and learn about where I am. I am looking forward to it.”
While most of the cast who have previously played Darlington are looking forward to seeing the newly-revamped theatre, Amy Thompson has already had a sneak preview, having toured at the venue in a different show.
She exclaimed: “It is absolutely fantastic and the dressing rooms are incredible!”
The youngest member of company, 16-year-old Fraser Kelly, is an old hand, having already been in the production previously.
He said: “I can’t wait to start. It is a privilege working with such great people and great actors.”
This final tour is directed by Rupert Hill. Best known as Coronation Street’s “Jamie Baldwin”, he is a previous Full Monty cast member – something he feels gives him a distinct advantage.
“It gives me huge insight into the way it works,” he said. “I don’t need to reinvent the wheel in every scene but there are things that I want to explore.
“The main thing for me was that all the female characters felt a bit secondary, so I am trying to make the relationship between the couples to be more meaningful and integral to the story.
“I also got the cast to watch the Ken Loach film ‘Raining Stones’. It was the film that inspired the Full Monty – they wanted to make a film that Ken Loach characters would watch.
“I think that’s one of The Full Monty’s strengths and it is unbelievable how relevant that film and our show feels now; payday loans, unemployment and anger at society.
“But also comedy is what Northerners use to get by. The financial situation the characters find themselves in is desperate, but that mix of comedy and relatability makes the show part story and part party. Ken Loach meets Cabaret!
“But it is celebratory and it works better on stage because the audience become part of the scene. The guys stripping at the end feels like a defiant gesture and the crowds go wild!”
Gary Lucy had the final words, saying: “There is no better show on the road. Come along and I’ll prove it to you.”
“The Full Monty” runs at Darlington Hippodrome from Monday, November 12th, 2018 to Saturday, November 17th, 2018.
For more information or to book, call 01325 405405 or visit the website.
Source: Darlington Hippodrome