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Sunday, 8 March 2020

Preview: The Full Monty at Newcastle Tyne Theatre

Sisters Doing It For Themselves: The Female Team Teaching Men To Strip

The Full Monty: The Broadway Musical
Newcastle Tyne Theatre & Opera House
Wednesday 11th to Saturday 14th March 2020

When it comes to theatre there are few shows that ooze as much testosterone as The Full Monty: The Broadway Musical.

Adapted from the well-known 1997 film The Full Monty, it tells the story of six unemployed American steelworkers who, low on cash and prospects, set out to present a strip act to a local club. They must deal with their fears, insecurities and personal challenges to work together and go the “Full Monty”.

In March a brave group of six men will do just that, as they take to the stage to perform the musical at the Tyne Theatre. The show, which runs from Wednesday 11th to Saturday 14th, is raising funds for the theatre’s preservation trust.

But behind every man there is a good woman …. and behind this show are a whole host of them. Despite the nudity and heavily male-driven content, the Full Monty Production Crew on this show is an all-female one.

It’s directed by Sonia Hernandez, 35, from Gateshead, who is making her directing debut with an adult production. “I enjoy directing because I have a passion for creating things and seeing them come to life,” said Sonia, who has juggled parental duties of a one year old and being a full time freelancer with the commitment required for this show.

I love that this show appeals to all, not just theatre goers. Musicals aren't everyone's thing but The Full Monty attracts a range of people, for obvious reasons I suppose!! The show makes the theatre accessible for everyone, including many who may not have been before”

The show’s crescendo is, of course, the final dance routine, when the group of men perform a host of sexy and sensual dance moves culminating in the big reveal. Choreographing this has been Helen Abraham, 37, from Sunderland. She’s been involved in shows all over the region but this is the first time she’s ever had to bring nudity into the rehearsal room. “Surprisingly there have been minimal issues arising from the nudity. We have a very pragmatic, easy to work with bunch of guys. My concern at the start of the rehearsals was making sure they were never made to feel uncomfortable. But they’ve all been an absolute dream and the challenge has been getting them to keep their clothes on!”

“I love the message behind this show – self acceptance and confidence.  All of the male characters go on a journey and we can all relate to them in one way or another,” said Helen. Helen is supported by Assistant Choreographer Steph Crewe, a Newcastle College student who has just gained a place at the International School of Screen Acting starting in September.

Completing the onstage creative trio is Musical Director Jenni Watson, from Gateshead, who has the task of conducting the live 13 piece orchestra and directing the music throughout the show.

And it is not just the onstage elements being led by women as Laura Keady-Bennet, 32, from Whitley Bay, is the show’s Stage Manager, in charge of the production side of things. Laura says “As stage manager you are required to integrate and bring together all departments and in a large production such as Full Monty there is a lot to consider and coordinate.” Laura also has the responsibility of cuing the all-important lights at the end of the show that throw the men into silhouette and protect their modesty.

“Even though this is an amateur production everyone is incredibly professional and respectful.  The team has done an amazing job creating an open and safe environment. Because of the nudity element, this show encourages an ‘we are all in this together’ ethos along with a huge amount of respect between all departments and cast,” said Laura.

Whilst the ladies reflect on how unusual it is to have an all-female team, Sonia says, “I can’t recall a previous production I have been involved in that has had a female Director, Musical Director, Choreographer and Stage Manager. But I think it works really well for a show like this as there’s a good mixture of respect and fun.”

Laura adds, “I have been lucky enough to work with so many talented women over the years and it is great to see that there is such a strong female presence in leadership roles working on this show. It is a shame that this is still a rarity but I do feel times are starting to change and women are filling roles that have been traditionally held by men, Stage Manager being a good example.”

Tyne Theatre Productions present: The Full Monty
Newcastle Tyne Theatre & Opera House
Wednesday 11th - Saturday 14th March 2020 at 7.00pm
Tickets: #Ad

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