Author Simon Beaufoy and cast members talk about their current UK tour of The Full Monty which comes to Darlington Civic Theatre from Monday 16 to Saturday 21 November.
Former Hollyoaks and Eastenders star Gary Lucy is no stranger to taking his clothes off but he’s doing it for the first time on stage as he leads the cast of The Full Monty which is coming to Darlington Civic Theatre from Monday 16 to Saturday 21 November.
“Every job I’ve had has seemed to involve some sort of nudity!” Gary joked.
Surprisingly, in an almost 20 year career, Gary has never appeared on stage until The Full Monty.
“I had never consciously decided not to do theatre but I’ve been incredibly lucky in my career to have played so many memorable characters in some great TV series. When the producers of The Full Monty approached me about starring in the tour, I just thought that it was a great opportunity for my first stage experience. It’s a really strong script. All the characters have stories to tell, and the audience really follows that through. It’s a really great cast too, we all get on well. It’s all guys together and we’re just having a laugh.”
At the beginning, it was in at the deep end for Gary.
“It was a real challenge when I first started working on the show. Theatre is a completely different discipline to TV. I’m on stage for pretty much the entire show. The rest of the cast were brilliant and really helped me through. I’m not one to do things by half and I’ve never shied away from hard work or a challenge.”
Gary’s well into the swing of life on the road and is enjoying the nightly standing ovations but he does admit that “it’s tough being away from home as I have two young kids but I am really well supported and I am getting home as much as possible.”
Oscar winter writer of the film, Simon Beaufoy, was also a stage novice. Even with a mantelpiece groaning with awards he admits that it was terrifying to begin with, but he was determined not just to do a carbon copy of the film on stage.
“I felt really strongly that audiences would want to come and see a really good play so that’s how I approached it” Simon recalls. “It was a steep learning curve for me and enormously invigorating to learn a whole new craft after 16 years writing for the cinema. I had to discover what works and what doesn’t. Ironically, it’s turned out that the story feels perfect on stage. It’s an ensemble piece about a group of men who are stuck and wondering what to do next.”
Having won an Oscar for Slumdog Millionaire and written screenplays for 127 Hours, Salmon Fishing in Yemen and Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Simon says that The Full Monty is “the film that I’m most proud off. I love it because of the characters, because of the city and because it’s about the people I met in the late eighties, who were some of the warmest and kindest people I’ve ever come across.”
Rupert Hill, best known as Jamie Baldwin in Coronation Street, agrees with Simon. As well as being lots of fun, the show also tackles lots of important issues.
“The great thing about Simon’s script is that it looks at all the issues people faced in cities like Sheffield in the eighties but it’s also a great night out for the audience. There’s the pay off at the end, but you can really feel the audience rooting for you because they care about what the characters have been through to get to that point.
On getting naked on stage, Rupert says:
“Once you agree to the job, you’ve kind of got to get over the whole naked thing. There’s no skirting around it, you know you are going to be naked in front of hundreds – no, make that thousands – of people. If we were supposed to be the Chippendales then it would be horrendous, but the whole point is these are six ordinary blokes who are doing this to earn a few bob. That’s what’s nice about it being all different ages and sizes, they’re all normal chaps out there and that’s what we are.”
And of course, the big question is whether the cast actually do go all the way. Simon Beaufoy was amazed by the audience reaction to the finale of the show.
“You’d think we’d all be a little blasé about seeing a few chaps in the buff. But apparently not! To answer the question – yes they really do go The Full Monty! The audience reaction is amazing – they whoop and roar but it’s not because they’re being titillated by some naked flesh. It’s because they’re just so happy that the guys are actually going for it. It’s a really lovely response – it’s sheer joy that these characters they’ve come to know and love actually have the guts to do it.”
The Full Monty is at Darlington Civic Theatre from Monday 16 to Saturday 21 November.
Tickets* are £12.50 to £29.50 To book contact the Box Office on 01325 486 555 or visit www.darlingtoncivic.co.uk
*All ticket prices include a £1 restoration levy