A MUSICAL version of The Full Monty will be staged in Henley next month — and this time, the cast are going all the way.
Click here to watch our behind the scenes video with the cast and crew of The Full Monty.
Adapted from the 1997 British comedy, the former Broadway and West End show follows six unemployed American steelworkers who reinvent themselves as strippers. But unlike the film version, which coyly cut away from its stars’ nether regions, director George Riddell has promised nothing will be left to the imagination.
The 48-year-old, who is directing for HAODS at the Kenton Theatre, has staged it at three other venues in the past and says it’s bound to be a raucous affair.
He said: “I directed a version of the show in Tring last year and I reckon maybe 90 per cent of the audience were ladies — scary, scary ladies. It’s fair to say they may be a bit more vocal than the typical Kenton audience. They’ll all be screaming their heads off once they’ve had a glass or two of wine.
“We’ve even had a hen party book the entire front row for the Saturday matinée so that should be really interesting for the cast. It’s not a pantomime, but the audience will definitely have their say.”
The story centres on Jerry (Kevin Goodfellow) and Dave (James Lole), who cook up their scheme after secretly following their wives to a Chippendales performance. They enlist former colleague Malcolm (James Pankhurst), boss Harold (Paul Freeman) and fellow jobseekers Horse (Tim Bell) and Ethan (Piers Burnell) to dance alongside them. As their first performance gets nearer, they find themselves struggling with their confidence and various crises in their personal lives.
George said: “It’s a great story. It mirrors the film but there are a lot of differences as well. The film focused mostly on the guys and their insecurities but this takes a closer look at the women in their lives and there are some great songs for the ladies.
“It isn’t a typical Broadway show with big song and dance numbers. It’s a story of real people doing real things — and getting naked, of course. People who come will get to see the ‘full monty’. Our guys go all the way from security guards’ uniforms right down to a G-string, then even that comes off. It will be held high and proud.” And contrary to what one might expect, George said it had been easy to find people who were willing to bare all.
He said: “That’s the easiest part, funnily enough. I’ve directed this four times and there have been plenty of guys who’ve been up for it.
“There was one unfortunate incident during the auditions when Piers misunderstood my request to ‘just drop your jeans’ and dropped everything. It was very amusing for everyone who was there. He got the part — and everyone else nearly got the part as well.”
Piers, who lives in Remenham, joined HAODS last year after moving from London in 2012. The 42-year-old bachelor used to run a theatre company but is now the coroner’s officer for Buckinghamshire.
He said: “I’m a bit nervous about the nudity but we’re all fairly comfortable. We know each other well and we’re a fun, supportive bunch.The production itself is great and the nudity is only a small part of it — it’s not as if the whole thing is a strip show.”
The script, which includes 14 musical numbers, only calls for a cast of about 20 but George has created a few extra roles including a tramp and a bevy of buxom female joggers.His five-year-old German Shepherd Pippa will also make a brief appearance as a police dog who chases two of the main cast. She will tempted to rush across the stage with a bone.
Rehearsals started in January and the cast are now running through the show from start to finish in time for the opening night on April 9.
George said: “We’ve gone through shock, horror and disbelief but the guys are definitely ready for it.”
It’s a far cry from HAODS’ last show, a musical version of Pride and Prejudice, but George was confident it would be a success with Henley audiences.
He said: “We’re really pushing the show now and ticket sales are starting to pick up. Three houses in the street outside have already gone up for sale and shops are boarding themselves up for the riots and crowds afterwards.”
* The Full Monty runs at the Kenton Theatre in New Street, Henley from April 9 to 12. For tickets go to www.kentontheatre.co.uk or call (01491) 575698.