The Full Monty at Riverside Theatres
Based on the hit film of the same name, The Full Monty, a ten-time Tony Award nominee, is filled with honest affection and engaging melodies. Not to mention the most highly anticipated closing number of any show.
While spying on their wives at a “Girls’ Night Out,” a group of unemployed steelworkers from Buffalo sees how much they enjoy watching male strippers. Jealous and emasculated, the men come up with a bold, unclothed way to make some quick cash. In preparing, they find themselves extremely exposed; not merely physically but emotionally. As they conquer their fears, self consciousness and anxieties they find strength as a group and overcome their inner demons.
Rosie spoke with actor Peter Meredith about this cheeky comedy and what we can expect from the over 18 shows.... Read the full interview below:
The Full Monty is an upbeat comedy that revolves around a group of unemployed steelworkers from Buffalo, who decide to try stripping to make some quick cash. What was it about this unique story that drew you to the script? What drew you to the role of Jerry?
The script is actually a cracking good story about a group of blokes who have had enough of life making decisions for them and decide to make one BIG decision of their own in order to regain some control of their lives . These men clearly have something in their life that makes going to some very challenging and confronting places worthwhile and they’re prepared to do it, come what may, and that creates some excellent drama.
Jerry is that popular teenager who never grew up and has gotten through adult life on charm and social magnetism alone having a great time along the way. However during this story he realises theres something in his life that means more to him than himself – and that’s his son. This is a pretty big moment for him, it’s a new feeling and he struggles to come to terms with it. I think that battle between living for the moment (as he’s always done) and a dedication to something “more” is what’s compelling about him.
The Full Monty musical is based on the hit film of the same name from 1997. Why do you think this is a story that people want to keep bringing to the stage in 2019? Does the work ever feel dated?
I don’t believe this story needs a time and place to be relevant. These are men who have been displaced by changes in industry, putting them out of a job, challenging their role in their relationships, their masculinity, their self-worth and their mental health. This is a show that directly addresses men handling depression and contemplating suicide, then portraying a pathway out of that (as unorthodox as that pathway may be) and I believe that will always be relevant.
In a time where male body confidence and mental health is at the forefront of a lot of stigmatisation, how do you see this play helping to show a model of male confidence in different body shapes? Does this show challenge what we deem sexy?
I can only speak of my own experience so I will confess to having moments of being utterly terrified of doing this show and wanting to run away and hide in a KFC bucket. I’m not young, I’m not tanned, I’m not fit, I’m not ripped up like a Calvin Klein model – but at some stage in my life I have been these things (not tanned. I’ve never been tanned...) and I know how much goddamn work it takes to maintain this – and honestly couldn’t be stuffed any longer. All of the male characters in this show have their own hang-ups they face – and don’t necessarily master - though the brotherhood of the group enables them to progress through the adversity. One of the key messages of this show is I think that simply having a go, that committing to something for somebody is sexy as hell – regardless of your waist/hair line.
I obviously have to ask about the famous closing number, particularly for the adult only shows. Have you done anything like this before in your career as a performer? How do you go about preparing for this particular scene?
I have never done anything like this in my career, no. I have done more intimate scenes, but nothing like this. For Full Monty we’ve ran some “acclimatisation” sessions in rehearsal with the boys to try and normalise things. It. Doesn’t. Work. It’s still just weird as hell – and I don’t think anything will change that. But that’s fine. It is what it is.
As to how do I prepare for it... I’ll have to let you know on the day, but I think it’s got to be taking a big ol’ breath, throwing myself into it and having as much fun as possible. If it’s not fun, then it’s awful – for me and the audience.
There are a number of seats available on stage for this production of The Full Monty. What can audiences expect when buying these stage seats? Should they be prepared to become a part of the production?
Listen, there’s not too much I’m able to reveal about that, you’ll have to buy a ticket... but between the 32 page release waiver and the plastic poncho provided to these on- stage audience members, the legal team believe we have ourselves covered for most eventualities.
What do you hope to achieve with The Full Monty? What should audiences look forward to?
The Full Monty is pretty universally known for one moment and that’s all a bit of fun and a flashy (pun intended) way to finish the show.
However, The Full Monty is actually a terrifically heart-felt story of a group of fellas working their way through a tough time – hysterically. There is a terrific original score that watchers of the movie won’t be aware of that really helps bring home the stereotypes faced, the challenges that are overcome and the pure spectacle this show offers. If you come along to the show for the final moments, that’s fine – but I guarantee you’ll leave remembering the moments leading up to it!
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS:
Favourite production you have ever seen?
Herringbone (Squabbalogic @ the Kings Cross Theatre)
You’re getting on a plane tomorrow and you can go anywhere in the world, where do you go?
The Caribbean coast of Mexico and Belize. Just incredible!
Dream show to perform in?
Parade – Jason Robert Brown
Plays or musicals?
30%/70% plays to musicals
A hobby you have beyond the theatre?
I play cricket in summer and indoor cricket in the winter
What’s next for you after this show?
I’ll probably have to get a tan...
The Full Monty opens at the Riverside Theatres on September 14. You can get your tickets here.