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WHEN it comes to taking his clothes off, former Hollyoaks and EastEnders star Gary Lucy is a seasoned pro.

In fact, he laughs, he's certainly no stranger to it and every job he's had to date has seemed to involved disrobing in some shape or form.

Now, though, he's set for a first. Getting his kit off on stage in front of a live North-east theatre audience every night when The Full Monty heads for a series of dates at Darlington Civic next month.

Surprisingly, in an almost 20-year career, Gary has never appeared on stage until deciding to tread the boards with The Full Monty, currently touring UK theatres.

"Every job I've had has seemed to involve some sort of nudity!" Gary joked.

"I had never consciously decided not to do theatre but I've been incredibly lucky in my career to have played so many memorable characters in some great TV series. When the producers of The Full Monty approached me about starring in the tour, I just thought that it was a great opportunity for my first stage experience.

"It's a really strong script. All the characters have stories to tell, and the audience really follows that through. It's a really great cast too, we all get on well. It's all guys together and we're just having a laugh."

At the beginning, it was in at the deep end for Gary.

"It was a real challenge when I first started working on the show. Theatre is a completely different discipline to TV. I'm on stage for pretty much the entire show. The rest of the cast were brilliant and really helped me through. I'm not one to do things by half and I've never shied away from hard work or a challenge."

In 1997, a British film about six out of work Shef-field steelworkers turned strippers took the world by storm. The Full Monty was a cinema hit - and now it has taken to the stage after writer Simon Beaufoy penned a hilarious and heartfelt adaptation.

He was also a stage novice when he took the project on but was determined not just to do a carbon copy of the film on stage.

"I felt really strongly that audiences would want to come and see a really good play so that's how I approached it," Simon, who won an Oscar for Slumdog Millionaire, recalls. "It was a steep learning curve for me and enormously invigorating to learn a whole new craft after 16 years writing for the cinema."

Rupert Hill, best known as Jamie Baldwin in Coronation Street, agrees with Simon. As well as being lots of fun, the show also tackles lots of important issues.

"The great thing about Simon's script is that it looks at all the issues people faced in cities like Sheffield in the Eighties but it's also a great night out for the audience. There's the pay off at the end, but you can really feel the audience rooting for you because they care about what the characters have been through to get to that point."

And on getting naked? "Once you agree to the job, you've kind of got to get over the whole naked thing. There's no skirting around it, you know you are going to be naked in front of hundreds - no, make that thousands - of people," said Rupert.

"If we were supposed to be the Chippendales then it would be horrendous, but the whole point is these are six ordinary blokes who are doing this to earn a few bob.

"That's what's nice about it being all different ages and sizes, they're all normal chaps out there and that's what we are."

And of course, the big question is whether the cast actually do go all the way. Simon Beaufoy was amazed by the audience reaction to the finale of the show.

"You'd think we'd all be a little blase about seeing a few chaps in the buff. But apparently not! To answer the question - yes they really do go The Full Monty!

"The audience reaction is amazing - they whoop and roar but it's not because they're being titillated by some naked flesh. It's because they're just so happy that the guys are actually going for it. It's a really lovely response - it's sheer joy that these characters they've come to know and love actually have the guts to do it."

The Full Monty is at .Darlington Civic Theatre from Monday 16 to Saturday, November 21. Tickets PS12.50 to PS29.50, box office 01325 486555 or


The Full Monty, from left: Andrew Dunn, Louis Emerick, Martin Miller, Bobby Schofield, |Rupert Hill and Gary Lucy, who are coming to Darlington Civic Theatre PAUL NORRIS
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Oct 23, 2015
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