When you think of The Full Monty, you immediately think of men getting their kit off, but actor Louis Emerick says there is much more to it than that.
“In one sense, you see six guys taking their clothes off on stage, but it’s actually a really heart warming story.
“It’s a great story about a group of guys who conquer adversity. They empower themselves and do what they can to get themselves out of this mire that they’re in.
“There is a serious side to it because so many people were affected by the Thatcher government in the eighties. So many towns, especially up north were decimated; whole communities were decimated because of the Thatcher regime and I think The Full Monty shows the reality of that.
“It’s a recent part of history and it just demonstrates how a community rallies together in times of trouble to get themselves back on track. You just feel completely lifted after watching it.”
The Full Monty tells the hilarious and heartfelt story of six former Sheffield steelworkers on a quest to make a living after being laid off and their steel mills closed down. Spotting a line of women crowding to get into a local club to see a Chippendale’s striptease act one evening, Gaz (played by Gary Lucy) comes up with the idea of creating his very own strip show.
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With nothing to lose, Gaz convinces friends Dave (Martin Miller), Lomper (Bobby Schofield) and Gerald (Andrew Dunn) to get involved and then goes about recruiting two more to join their line-up; Louis’ character Horse and with Guy (Rupert Hill).
51-year-old actor Louis, who is perhaps best known for his roles in Brookside and Last of the Summer Wine, says Horse is a great character to play.
“Horse thinks it’s just dancing at first. He’s quite a lonely guy. Out of the six guys, he wasn’t one who worked with the others at the steel works, so he’s quite an outsider. He didn’t know any of the other men, so the whole process is just a bit of social interaction for him.
Having the Oscar-winning writer of the film version, Simon Beaufoy, was a big draw for Louis, who was thrilled with how alike the film and stage storyline was.
“It’s such a great story and the script stays very faithful to the film, which is fantastic. It’s a lovely project to be involved with.
“In the film version, my character was actually played by my ex brother-in-law [Paul Barber], so it seemed right that I took on the role in the play.
“One of my favourite parts is when Annie the stripper comes in to audition to be a part of the show but the guys have to let her down gently because they’re only looking for men. The moments with Gary and his son Nathan are also really touching, especially as a father myself.
“There’s a lovely scene between Lomper and Guy. I try to say to the audience to come with an open mind and don’t just think of it as guys taking their clothes off. The story is much deeper than that.”
Despite the serious storyline, there is a raunchy side to the film – the whole cast strips off live on stage.
You might think it’s a scary prospect having to take off your clothes in front of screaming audiences every night, but Louis says it’s got easier as time has gone on.
“Taking my clothes off on stage isn’t as daunting now as it was when we did it the first time in rehearsals. We had just met four days ago and we were showing our bits to each other. We were firmly looking at each other’s eyes and nothing else!
“As time has gone on it’s got easier and it’s just become part of the show. There’s a great atmosphere in the theatre when it happens and we all get on really well so that’s made things a lot easier.”
With the original production of The Full Monty winning the UK Theatre Award for Best Touring Production, Louis is certain that the show will leave the audience with smiles on their faces.
“If you come and see the show, you’ll think it’s the best money you’ve spent in a long time. After one of our shows in Cambridge, a lady came up to me and said I’ve had quite a difficult time in my life recently but the last two hours I have had the time of my life.
“That’s what it’s all about and you can’t put a price on that can you. It’s so lovely to hear and it’s very humbling.
“I’m really looking forward to getting on the stage at the Wycombe Swan now.”