Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Bare Minimum Is Not Acceptable for Full Monty Cast; the West End Operatic Society Is Preparing to Unveil Its Latest Production - the Full Monty. MARION SAUVEBOIS Finds How the Cast Are Baring Up

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Bare Minimum Is Not Acceptable for Full Monty Cast; the West End Operatic Society Is Preparing to Unveil Its Latest Production - the Full Monty. MARION SAUVEBOIS Finds How the Cast Are Baring Up

Article excerpt

WE'VE got the new G-strings," announced a man carrying a plastic whip around the room with what looks like the price tag still attached to it.

His bold declaration would be out of place at any other gathering but, at a Full Monty dress rehearsal, it is fairly standard.

No one bats an eyelid. The leads - Kevin Rhodes, Garry Martin, Brian Jordan, Leon Gill, Robert Younger and Mark Armstrong - are thrilled.

And one of the glittery items of clothing is passed around to demonstrate the efficiency of the Velcro strips on each side.

"The first ones were way too small. Things were going to hang out," explains Kevin Rhodes, who plays Malcolm, a gauche and lonely security guard still living with his mother, in this musical revisit to the 1997 movie.

It is now set in Buffalo, New York, and is about unemployed steelworkers who bravely put on a strip show to make quick cash.

But there is another reason for the group's fascination with the shiny undergarments - there is a skill to removing them efficiently and in a timely manner.

"The director had to work out the practicalities of removing the G-strings and moving our hats quickly enough to cover ourselves at the same time. It's very technical," he says.

Technical difficulties and wardrobe malfunctions are on everyone's mind.

They have disrupted many rehearsals, to everyone's amusement, but the idea is to eventually get it right to avoid a premature finale on stage when West End Operatic Society's production opens at The Journal Tyne Theatre in Newcastle next week.

Kevin's Chippendale outfit has fallen off more times than he can remember. Every time he unbuckled his belt, his trousers would fall down, revealing too much too soon.

As for Garry Martin, who plays David, a plump, unemployed steelworker desperately embarrassed about his body, the trousers simply would not come off.

"We will have to come up with a plan B if that kind of thing happens on stage. But because we are playing amateurs trying to be Chippendales, malfunctions might actually make the whole thing funny and more realistic," Garry says.

Unlike some of his partners in crime, he was not so keen on stripping at the start.

Although he still wishes the G-string could stay on, he has learned to look forward to the 'full monty'.

"I am not very happy about the G-string. I have nightmares about it. Blokes my size aren't supposed to wear them," he tells me.

"Stripping is the most alien thing I have ever had to do. I am the closest to my character out of all of us. Dave and I have the same insecurities.

"I was very nervous about having to strip for the audition. I've never been so frightened in my life, but they didn't ask us to take our clothes off. We just had to sing and perform. …

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