Going all the way … we hope

Amateur stripping. Not a common theme unless you’re drunk, a bodybuilder or have very little shame. But what if you’re unemployed, with nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain?
Enter The Full Monty. For the first time ever in Denmark, six Danes (considered amateurs on the stripping front) from the Teatret Gorgerne will rip off their gear in front of a 500-strong crowd and go all the way … or will they?

Based on the super successful 1997 British film The Full Monty, the onstage experience is just as shocking, moving and flat-out hilarious.

This musical comedy tells the story of six unemployed men – four of them former steelworkers – who decide to get their kit off in a male striptease in the hope it will bring in some much needed cash and give their sorry lives a boost.

A flurry of interest then pours in after they declare their show will outdo the Chippendales (a famous American stripper group) because they’ll strip all the way − hence the name ‘The Full Monty’.

Teatret Gorgerne are behind the big strip, and although opening night is still a week away, Teatret Gorgerne have been tantalising Copenhagen with some revealing taster previews already.

Passengers on the Metro were caught off guard recently when actor Emil Schneider suddenly rose from his seat and began showing his wares.  

“Not all of them were enthused,” says Schneider who plays Keno in the show.

“Most people took the spontaneous strip number nicely, but some chose to completely ignore what was happening. Some stared off into space or suddenly became very preoccupied with a leaf on their shoe, while I threw off my clothes right next to them. They simply couldn’t handle it.”

It’s this kind of reaction that has actor Anders Gjesing, who plays Jerry, more convinced than ever that Copenhageners are in need of this show to ruffle their straight feathers.

“We’re always seeing shows like Les Miserables and Jesus Christ Superstar [Teatret Gorgerne’s English language choice last year] so we need a few of the small, weird ones too to broaden people’s horizons,” says Gjesing.

You’d imagine that getting your kit off for 500 pairs of eyeballs each night is no easy feat for an actor; however, Gjesing thinks otherwise.

“For me at least, the stripping part ranks higher on the excitement scale than the scary one.”

“It’s like the last frontier: something you don’t get to do every day. I actually think it’s scarier getting our clothes off in front of each other than getting them off for a bunch of strangers.”

This then begs the questions: is The Full Monty for women or men?

“It’s for both,” says Gjesing. “While girls will obviously want to bring a bunch of their girlfriends, it’s so well-written and funny that men will love it too.”

Marie-Louise Lange who plays Vicki Nichols adds that the humour of the show plays a huge part in attracting audiences.

“It’s wonderfully sarcastic and the dryness of it fits the Danes very well,” she said. “We get to laugh at our own silliness – which hopefully means that we will act wiser when we face similar situations.”

And while the climax of the show is a male striptease, The Full Monty gains it’s depth by mixing in raw and real issues.

It’s these contrasting themes that capture people, says director Tom Aarup Larsen.

“I would describe this as a musical comedy with heart,” he said. “The story has a duality about it. On one hand it’s about stripping, but it also focuses on overcoming boundaries and gaining self-confidence.”

It’s themes such as unemployment that, Gjesing says, give the show a very up-to-date feeling.

“This is something that’s worrying a lot of people in Denmark right now, so it’s important to have these conflicts in there.”

“People also just love seeing the underdog win,” Gjesing adds.

On top of featuring six naked men, The Full Monty boasts a 12-piece live band – which gives the show another layer of emotion.

Despite all this, Larsen is plainly calling it a “bloody good night out”, on which audiences can soak up a rich piece of drama with great music to boost.

But will they or won’t they go all the way and go sans g-strings? You’ll have to see for yourself …

The Full Monty
Stærekassen, August Bournonvilles Passage 3, Cph K; starts Fri, ends Dec 1, performances Fri, Sat, Wed & Thu at 20:00, Dec 1 at 16:00; Tickets: 230-365kr, www.billetlugen.dk