Portsmouth Players dare to bare as they go The Full Monty at The Kings Theatre

Portsmouth Players in rehearsal for The Full Monty
Portsmouth Players in rehearsal for The Full Monty
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Fresh from winning Best Musical at this year's Guide Awards, the Portsmouth Players return to the stage with their production with the full-on The Full Monty.

Based on the 1997 film of the same name, it follows a group of six friends and former colleagues after they have been laid off from the local steelworks, who decide to turn to stripping to raise some cash.

The film, starring Robert Carlyle, was a surprise massive hit – and until it was overtaken by Titanic a year later, was the highest grossing film ever in the UK.

The musical debuted in 2000 in San Diego, with Carlyle's Gaz becoming Jerry, and the action transposed to Buffalo in upstate New York.

Tony Bryant is playing the lead in the Player's version: 'It’s the same story, same characters, but it’s set in America, and the music – obviously in the film it had a soundtrack of popular music, but in the show they had to write new music, for copyright reasons as much as anything else, I should imagine!'

'As in the film, they’ve been laid off from the steelworks, and my character is trying to find a way to raise some money so he can pay child-maintenance see his son.'

A veteran of the Players, '30 years on-and-off', Tony was in the cast last time the troupe performed the show back in 2009.mHow has he found it stepping up to the lead?

'It’s quite high energy and it’s quite intense It’s a small cast and the character I’m playing is onstage a lot – 80-90 per cent of the time, so getting your head around the lines, and I’m not getting any younger, so it’s getting harder to take them in.

'So yes, it is a bit of a challenge, and then at the end of the day you’ve got to take your clothes off, haven’t you!'

Ah yes, of course, the show's famous finale, which gives the film and musical it's name.

How have the cast taken to the stripping side of things?

'We haven’t quite gone all the way, I think we won’t do that until the dress rehearsal.

'There’s a scene in the show where they go the ex-boss’s house and they start stripping off there, so we’ve stripped down to our boxers and that’s no problem at all – it’s just like when you go swimming, that didn’t bother us. But it is quite funny because you’re stood in [the Players' HQ at] The Barn in Milton Park with just your pants on, so there’s been lots of laughing.

'It’s a really good script, it’s really well written, very funny in places and very poignant in places.

'I’ve been telling people to listen to the soundtrack because it’s very good - the songs are very catchy.'

There's also another big difference between the film and musical finale.

'In the film, the big number at the end is a Tom Jones song, You Can Leave Your Hat On, and of course we can’t use that, so it’s a song called Let It Go – and it’s not the one from Frozen! But it’s really good, and you get that rhythm and it lends itself to the strip.

'It’s been really good fun doing this with the boys, there’s a lot of camaraderie.'

Have there been any nerves about disrobing in front of a packed Kings Theatre? 'There will be plenty of nerves floating around on opening night,  there’s no doubt about it, but you’ve just got to get on the stage and do it.'

The Kings Theatre, Southsea

February 20-24