With only a few days to opening night, the cast and crew of The Full Monty at the Scarborough Village Theatre are eagerly awaiting their moment in the spotlight.
Having only auditioned in mid-November, the past few months have been a very busy time for everyone involved – especially the cast.
The play follows six unemployed steel workers who decide to form an all-male striptease act at a local club to raise money. Beneath the physical insecurities, the group must come to terms with their innermost fears, anxieties and personal demons in a relentless, judgmental society.
Actor Mike Scott, who plays Buddy “Keno” Walsh, is also in charge of publicity and promotions. His passion for theatre is what drives him to take part in community theatre productions.
“It’s all volunteered. I have a day job, so 9-to-5 I’m testing computer software, then come here for the evening and try to fit all the other stuff around it,” Scott said.
“Coming down the last week or two before the show (premieres) is exhausting, but it’s a lot of fun – it’s a nice break from the day-to-day thing. As exhausting as it is, it’s a good chance to unwind too.”
Demand for tickets has been so high that an additional show date was added to the run. Scott put it down to this production being the first of its kind.
“I think that’s part of the reason sales have been going so well. The Broadway touring production came through about 10 years ago, Stage West (a professional theatre in Calgary, Alta.) did it professionally a year or two ago – but this is the first time it’s been on the community theatre level,” Scott said.
Artistic director Michael Jones addressed the challenge in putting together a play of a mature nature.
“There certainly is a fair amount of nudity and coarse language in the production, but the challenge of this production will be to absorb the audience in the humanity of the story,” Jones stated in a press release.
Another unique aspect to this particular performance is the inclusion of audience participation, which adds a whole new dimension to the work.
“It’s not your traditional piece of theatre because we want the audience to be involved,” Scott said. “In the opening of the show when the women are at the strip club, the audience is the audience [at the club]. You should feel like you’re at the strip club – feel free to hoot and holler and go along.”
The theatre’s architectural design promotes the interactive relationship between the audience and the players.
Kelly Lovatt-Hawkins, who plays the role of Estelle Genovese, has come to recognize the power of the set in her experience with the theatre.
“This is my fourth show with the Scarborough Village Theatre. [The venue] is really intimate and allows you an opportunity to break the wall and draw the audience in – it allows you to bring them in to your story,” Lovatt-Hawkins said.
As one can gather from the play’s title, the six-man striptease act believes they will be better than the Chippendales dancers because they intend to go all the way – the “full monty.”
Twaine Ward, who plays Noah “Horse” T. Simmons, said he was drawn to the production for this reason, seeing it as an opportunity to grow as a performer.
“I definitely needed to push myself as an artist in getting comfortable on stage with nudity,” he said. “This was huge for me because I’ve never been comfortable with my naked body by myself — let alone with people watching me and judging.”
“This was really good for me as an artist to really get me out of my shell, get me more comfortable and to break down some of my barriers as a performing artist.”
Another key element to the success in this production is the choreography. With more than 10 musical numbers, the cast has spent a lot of time with choreographer Janet Flynn. Flynn has had years of experience in community theatre, but this was her first time choreographing a striptease.
“That was very interesting because I’ve never taught a strip before … or been a stripper myself! I did a lot of research,” she said. “I looked at the movie, and any other versions I could find to see how they did it. For instance, what would be the easiest motion for getting a tie or a shirt off? I did a lot of practising in my kitchen which was funny for my family.”
Flynn is convinced that the audience will be satisfied with the performances.
“To be the first to do something is really exciting,” she said. “And obviously you want to please the audience – and I know this time they’re going to. I don’t think anyone is walking away from this show not smiling.”
The Full Monty’s 12-show run premieres this Thursday at 8 p.m.