A new production of award-winning smash hit play, The Full Monty, starring TV favourites Danny Hatchard (EastEnders), Jake Quickenden (X Factor, I’m A Celebrity…) and Bill Ward (Emmerdale, Coronation Street) is heading on a UK Tour, coming to Aylesbury Waterside Theatre from Tue 21 – Sat 25 Nov. We caught up with the cast to chat about bringing the production across the country and why this heartwarming comedy is still relevant to audiences today.
25 years since the movie, The Full Monty is having a resurgence, with the Disney+ spin-off series and this new touring production. Why do you think the story has stood the test of time? Danny Hatchard: Is there a more iconic working-class comedy than The Full Monty? I’d argue not. Especially one that covers so many incredibly important topics that are still very relevant today… Fathers’ rights, depression, suicide, impotence, homosexuality, unemployment, body image. Tackling important subjects like these whilst adding a sprinkle of nostalgia and a dash of humour takes the audience on a 2-hour emotional rollercoaster filled with tears and belly laughter. This show is not only a cocktail of excellence, but also hugely relatable to both men and women. Jake Quickenden: It’s a story for everyone and it has everything – love, humour, sensitive subjects, the lot. So many people can relate to the characters, they draw on relationships that affect everyone, ex-wife, ex-wife’s new husband, kid that lives with mum, lads, being skint, the list goes on and on. It means that’s everyone who watches it can feel like its speaking to them, and then of course, there is the brilliant humour, the dancing and everything that goes with it!
Bill Ward: Because at its core it revolves around a number of universal, timeless themes: male brotherhood, love, overcoming loss and adversity, and ingenious solutions to universal recognisable problems. This is essentially about 6 men who’ve lost not only their jobs, but their sense of identity and their dignity. And what they’re prepared to do to get them back.
The play is ultimately a comedy but explores some tough issues around male body image and mental health. In what ways do you think the themes within the production are relevant for audiences today?
DH: They’re almost indistinguishable. If anything, times are harder now on men (and woman) than they ever have been, especially regarding body image and mental health. Social media being the main driving force of that. Every day people post their idea of “perfection” all over the internet, and naturally we compare. I’d say The Full Monty is just as important now as it was 25 years ago. There used to be more of a sense of community and care for one another, and I feel social media is pushing us further and further away from our natural way of communicating. The Full Monty is a hilarious, thought-provoking show that will make you feel part of a community again. Who doesn’t want to experience that? JQ: A lot of people ask this, and do you know, I think it led the way with a lot of these conversations – it was 97’ when then film came out, men didn’t really share their issues with each other and it was still pretty taboo to be open about mental health and being gay. This story reminds us of lots of things that are more accepted today but still very important – talk to people if you are feeling down – there is always another way out other than suicide. Being yourself in the world is nothing to be ashamed of. Your body is the only one you have, love it no matter how it looks, everyone likes something different. Just because you are old doesn’t mean you can’t do something… there are just so many messages in here for everyone. BW: There are so many things in this play that resonate today. Simon Beaufoy the writer came to see us during rehearsals, and he was very clear it wasn’t a comedy at all. “A play with jokes”, is how he described it. It is of course very funny indeed, but the comedy actually comes from the very real tragedy that all these characters are facing in their lives… different circumstances, different starting points, but real grief and tragedy nevertheless. There’s a brotherhood between the men in the play – how well have you bonded with your cast members? DH: The casting team have done an incredible job. I love and respect every member of this cast very much. They say time flies when you’re having fun. Well, 2 hours feels like 20 minutes onstage with this lot. We’re all just a bunch of good mates having a wonderful time. Every scene feels effortless, and I trust them all implicitly.
JQ: I don’t want to sound cliché but literally everyone is so close. Usually you get little cliques grow but we genuinely all get on so well, and because a lot of the scenes include all of us, we just have a laugh and get closer and closer every day. Then there are all the memories we are making as we tour the UK and all those different theatres, hotels, lunch breaks all end up building to create this huge happy family. Plus, we are all hilarious which helps! I would say Alice (Schofield) is the Robin to my Batman – we are joined at the hip!
BW: This is a wonderful cast and crew. Hugely talented, and lovely too. We’re a very happy band of sisters and brothers.
What are you most looking forward to about touring with this production?
DH: Bigger audiences. When you know you’ve got something good you want to share it with the world. So, the bigger the audience the better.
JQ: It sounds obvious but literally being somewhere different every week or so keeps the energy alive, we know that all the audiences are seeing it for the first time, and it helps the electric keep buzzing onstage. Plus, we get a chance to potter about during the day and see all these different places and hang out with cast members. It’s also pretty cool that friends and family from all over the UK can try and get to a show as there is usually one heading to a theatre near them.
BW: There’s an awful lot of heart, warmth, and joy in this production, and it’s a huge amount of fun to do. Sharing a bit of that with the good people of the UK in these otherwise rather bleak times can only be a good thing.
What do you hope audiences will take away from seeing this production of The Full Monty? DH: Pure unadulterated happiness.
JQ: The main thing is – be yourself, never give up, never listen to what anyone thinks and just do you! The story is sad at times, but every character overcomes their worries in some way and ends with success! It’s a feel-good show which keeps people laughing even when they are crying.
BW: This is a very beautiful, heartwarming and at times very moving story. It’s also very, very funny indeed and an absolute riot at the end. A properly banging night out at the theatre.
The Full Monty is at Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury from 21st November.