RTÉ Ten chats to the former Coronation Street star about the stage version of The Full Monty, which runs at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre from April 8 - 13.
In 1997, a BAFTA award winning film about six out of work Sheffield steelworkers with nothing to lose, took the world by storm. And now they’re back, live on stage.
The film’s writer, Simon Beaufoy, has since won an Oscar for Slumdog Millionaire, has now gone back to where it all started to rediscover the men, the women, the heartache and the hilarity of a city on the dole.
Featuring songs from the film by Donna Summer, Hot Chocolate and Tom Jones, The Full Monty is brought to the stage by award winning director Daniel Evans and stars Sidney Cole, Kenny Doughty, Craig Gazey, Roger Morlidge, Kieran O’Brien, and Simon Rouse.
RTÉ Ten caught up with actor Craig Gazey, who plays Lumper, and you might also remember from Coronation Street on which he played the loveable Graham Proctor.
RTÉ Ten: How similar to the movie is The Full Monty the play?
Craig: There are lots of moments that are like the film, but I think it is different in a certain way as I would say it is a bit more political, than the film was. We meet the characters but we are obviously different actors to the original ones so we do it in our way! I haven’t seen the film for about 10 years and I did love it when I saw it, but I thought it was really important not to see it when I was auditioning and when I got the script, because there are a lot of things different with my character.
Steve Huison played the part of Lumper in the movie, who you are now playing, and you worked with him on Coronation Street – did you ask him for any advice?
No I didn’t. I remember he was great in it, but in the film he has a beautiful dead-pan way. He doesn’t really say anything and you can do that, but on a stage when there are hundreds of people watching you, you can’t really get away with that. I just saw it as a new entity really.
Tell us a bit about your Lumper then?
Well, we meet Lumper in the factory, which is different to the film and he attempts suicide, and gets saved by the Dave and Gaz. He then has these new friends, which is all he really wanted. Simon [Beaufoy] has really developed Lumper since I got the part, he has written it so that he becomes empowered by his new friendships and being part of a group which he never had. He has always been a bit of a loner. His life just gets better and better.
Did you get a chance to work directly with Simon Beaufoy on the script?
Yes, he was an integral part of the rehearsal process and we were doing rewrites through the previews as well. He is the most lovely, humble guy and this is his first play. I couldn’t believe how excited he was to work with theatre actors. He told us it is one of the most difficult things he has done. What has been great is that none of the reviews has belittle it. Yes it is about fun, and yes we do strip, but like the film, it is about these guys that have lost their way and for 5 minutes of their lives become empowered and I think that comes across in the play. We certainly feel it and the audience seem to.
Director Daniel Evans said that in rehearsal some of the cast where more up for the stripping than others – which side of that fence did you sit on?
Well this is the fourth play that I have had to strip in so I was completely fine with it! When we started we had one week of just the six of us with our choreographer and on the second day of that week we had what now can only be described as naked Tuesday, we walked from one side of the room to the other with our clothes off. It was just great because we weren’t giggly about it, everyone was so supportive. All the other people in the show, they all sit at the side of the wings and it’s just a thing that we don’t really talk about, it just happens!
Are you looking forward to your Dublin dates?
Yes very much so – I’ve been to Dublin a couple of times and I love it. I run for Leukaemia Lymphoma Research and we came over and did a 10k run with Sonia O’Sullivan. But I have never been there for long enough, so hoping to get out and about this time.
The poster for the show says ‘Prior to the West End’ – are you hoping to be part of the cast if it makes it there?
Well, we don’t like to jinx it. Hopefully we will get there – but we don’t really talk about it. We are doing our job by performing so we will just have to wait and see what happens with that.
We haven’t seen you on the telly since you left Corrie, what have you been up to?
Yeah, I haven’t done any TV work, not for any particular reason except that the projects I wanted to do happened to be in the theatre. I would like to go back to it at some stage, not necessarily Coronation Street, maybe that could be something down the road.
What about Hollywood – do you have dreams of the big screen?
I’d love to do some films, especially here in England, but our industry isn’t thriving at the minute. I’ve been trying my hand at writing and I have a short film I want to make in the summer so I will see how I get with that.
There are a limited number of tickets left for The Fully Monty at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, check out www.ticketmaster.ie for more details.