The Full Monty: Another Article

Ken AshfordLocal InterestLeave a Comment

Hat tip to Heather for seeing this article (and from whom I am stealing this photo from our production, and yes, they’re naked here).  Yes, it does kind of act as a "spoiler" but not a severe one of the Harry Potter kind.  Besides, with three nights to go, any publicity at this point is a good thing, and this just might bring in the few people who were nervous about what they might be exposed to:

Fullmontygs0GREENSBORO — In many stage performances, actors must bare their souls to the audience. In tonight’s performance of "The Full Monty," the actors are going to bare, well, something else.

"The Full Monty," originally a British film about a group of unemployed steel workers who decide to strip for money, was adapted to a musical in 2000.
Since then, "The Full Monty" has been featured in touring acts, on Broadway and now, in a joint production between the Community Theatre of Greensboro and The Little Theatre of Winston-Salem, it can be seen in all its glory at the Carolina Theatre.

"It’s a fun play, but it calls for a certain kind of actor," says Mitchel Sommers, Community Theatre’s executive director. "I’m sure they had to go through some soul searching. At the end they are standing onstage completely naked."

Neil Shepherd, a 35-year acting veteran who plays the lead role of Jerry, agrees.

" ‘The Full Monty’ is a little more nerve-racking because you’re actually taking your clothes off in front of people," he says. "I don’t know why that’s different, but you feel more vulnerable."

Can I interject here a moment?  Neil is NOT the one to be giving this quote.  I’ve seen that boy naked in more plays than I’ve seen myself naked in the shower.

But I get his point.

But just because the actors are stripping doesn’t mean audiences should count on getting too much of an eyeful.

Bright lights behind the actors turn them into silhouettes just as they bare all in the final scene.

The trick to this, explains Sommers, is getting the timing down.

"If the light cue doesn’t work, the audience will get the full monty," he says.

And, as a Winston-Salem audience recently learned, sometimes not everything goes according to plan.

"There was one night … there was about two beats where the audience saw everything," says Sommers, laughing. "So, Greensboro better be prepared."

The audience members weren’t the only ones surprised, Shepherd says. "When the lights came up we could see their reaction."

The actors stress that although nudity is the most well-known part of the musical, the characters’ story of overcoming personal and professional obstacles is what they see gripping audiences.

"A lot of people are making a big deal of the nudity, but I see the audiences just eating it up and taking in the journey of these six guys," Shepherd says. "It’s all about these guys who decide to go for this, but at the same time they’re dealing with age and insecurity and being overweight."

Neil nails it.  Good show, Neil.

Though some arguably risqué shows have met protest from residents in the past, this one has yet to meet any resistance.

"When we first opened … and we could see some older people in the crowd, I was a little nervous about how they were going to take it," Shepherd admits. "But at the end they were standing up cheering. I fully attribute it to the story of the play."

Still, actors spend parts of the play wearing only underwear or G-strings, so attendees should count on seeing more skin than usual.

Promises Sommers: "For those that attend, they’re going so see something they’ve never seen before."

P.S.  One of our performers has a fan.