Actors Prepare to Bare All in Carnegie's "Full Monty"
Take it all off, gentlemen. And sing and dance while you’re doing it!
Hit musical The Full Monty opens the Carnegie 2017-18 season on Aug. 12 and plays weekends through the month. In the show, six Buffalo steelworkers lose their jobs when the mill closes. How to bring in some dough? Take it off, baby.
The show is about how the six blue collar heroes learn to dance, deal with body issues, shed their individual emotional baggage, reveal the plan to their wives, develop strong bonds and meld into a unit, culminating in the Big Show.
The question is, how exactly do a six-some of mostly non-professional actors go about taking it off like a pro?
“It wouldn't be a secret if I told you, would it?,” Sean P. Mette teased. “Maybe Velcro? Maybe snaps?”
R. DeAndré Smith has done Full Monty before and also isn’t eager to give too much away, but he emphasizes, “it’s (a show that) takes a great break-away costume.” He also mentions Velcro and snaps as possibilities and suggests some productions “may even use magnets.”
Mette muses, “Perhaps the crew will butter each of us up before we go on stage so the clothes literally melt off from the lights during the number.”
Smith adds that it’s not just the costumes, it’s the lighting of the big Chippendales-esque number. “It’s 100 percent lighting. This number is supposed to take place in a strip club and if that effect is not achieved the number falls flat and you have six men on stage playing dress-up.”
Director Matthew Wilson is also mum on the costuming secrets but says his “number one priority was finding guys who would be willing to see this through to the very end.” To guarantee it, he asked them to do a dance combination in their underwear at the callbacks.
“My fear was we would have a lot of guys audition who said they were comfortable doing it but would get cold feet when it came to doing it in front of a room full of strangers - or a room full of people they know! Not one guy we called back shied away from it.”
Mette, one of the best actors in the area, says, “During the audition, I never had second thoughts. However, leading up to and after accepting the role, I had some hesitation. Most of the men in this show, and in theatre in general, have decent bodies. I have not been blessed with this situation. I am playing, Dave, who struggles with his weight in a real-world way.
“When I saw the film, about a year and a half ago, I knew that this was a part that I wanted to play. A real man struggling with weight loss and the effects of obesity on his marriage. I have struggled with my weight, practically my whole life. It is really only in the last year that I have begun to accept who I am and what I look like.”
Mette adds that Columbus-based performance poet Rachel C. Wiley has his gratitude. “Her poetry, kind words, and listening ear have helped me along this path of self-acceptance.”
Rehearsing the scene has also been a process. Naked is vulnerable.
First, it was just the six actors who learned the choreography for the finale. Next, they did the number for the rest of the cast without the actual stripping.
Once the guys are in costume, says Wilson, “we run it and run it.” Last week he planned to “probably do the first few runs with the full costumes with just the production team and then allow the rest of the cast to be reintroduced to the scene.”
The Full Monty
The Full Monty musical premiered on Broadway in 2000, and is adapted from the 1997 British film of the same name, which was nominated for four Academy Awards.
“This show offers a lot of hilarity and all-out fun, while also telling a heart-warming tale about a man trying to be the kind of father his son deserves,” said Carnegie Theatre Director Maggie Perrino. “Not every show can have you roaring with laughter one minute, and be tugging at your heart strings the next. THE FULL MONTY is truly a special evening of theatre.”
Performances of THE FULL MONTY will run weekends August 12 - 27, Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m., Sundays at 3:00 p.m. Tickets are $30, $27 for Carnegie members, Northern Kentucky Chamber members, and Enjoy the Arts members, and $23 for students. Tickets can be purchased through The Carnegie Box Office, open Tuesday through Friday from noon to 5 p.m., in person or by phone at 859.957.1940, or online at www.thecarnegie.com.
Written by Jackie Demaline, RCN Arts