“It's amazing, coming out on stage and having 1,000 women screaming at you,” says the actor Roger Morlidge. “It's the closest I'll ever get to being a rock star.”
Morlidge is one of the stars of the stage version of The Full Monty, due to transfer to the West End in February next year following a successful national tour, which ends in two weeks.
He plays former steelworker Dave in the adaptation of the 1997 hit film about six unemployed men who boost their finances, and their self-esteem, by becoming strippers.
The Full Monty has proved especially popular with hen-night parties. This has added an extra dimension, with the actors having to project above hollering and raucous laughter, and dodge underwear as it is hurled on to the stage. “As soon as someone mentions the word 'willie', the whole place erupts,” says Morlidge. “And you think, 'Oh, ok, we're in for one of those nights.'”
Simon Beaufoy, the writer of the film, has also scripted the play. “He has created something that is more political than the film,” says Morlidge. “It's still a comedy, but I think the pathos and the sense of hopelessness are much more present in the play. Having said that, on a Friday night when all the hen parties are in that goes for a burton, because there are several hundred women who just want to see naked blokes.”
'The Full Monty', Noel Coward Theatre, London WC2 (www.fullmontytheplay.com) from 25 February 2014