Full Monty play comes full circle

Andrew Dunn  as Gerald with Pauline Fleming as  as his wife, Lindaa
Andrew Dunn as Gerald with Pauline Fleming as as his wife, Lindaa

As his second UK tour in The Full Monty comes to a close in its spiritual home of Sheffield, Andrew Dunn reflects: “Out of all the work I have done it’s my favourite.

“It’s so much fun. People come out of it smiling. You can hear them on the tannoy laughing as they go out,” says the actor best known as Tony in Dinnerladies and for his regular appearances playing Alastair Campbell on Bremner, Bird and Fortune.

Andrew Dunn in Dinnerladies

Andrew Dunn in Dinnerladies

“For some reason it’s been hijacked as a woman’s night out. Actually it’s a bloke’s play about male issues with northern male jokes but it’s taken on a life of its own.”

More of which later.

In the play based on the 1997 hit film about six out-of-work Sheffield steelworkers with nothing to lose who decide to form a troupe of male strippers he plays Gerald, the ex-foreman.

Did he have reservations about having to get his kit off? “To be honest I wasn’t going to do the audition but my wife (Andrina Carroll, also an actor) said, ‘don’t be stupid, you are doing it’ and I’m grateful.

Actually it’s a bloke’s play about male issues

“The most embarrassing was the first time in the rehearsal room and it doesn’t seem so bad after a few times in front of an audience.”

And, of course, the stripping only comes right at the end and clever lighting to some extent preserves their modesty, although there have been occasions apparently where it hasn’t worked properly.

He even sports a spray tan, but not out of vanity. “Myself and Chris Fountain go on a sun bed so we have to have a spray tan every week. I never thought I would be doing that or wearing a thong.”

The cast have found there’s quite a big difference in reactions around the country. “In some places, like Cambridge, they have sat and watched the play and laughed and clapped at the right time,” reports Dunn. “And then you get groups of drunken women taking over like in Glasgow and Inverness. We had to have personal mics rather than stage mics to make ourselves heard.

“It only takes one group to set it off. I feel annoyed on behalf of the rest of the audience who can’t hear a word and have paid good money. These people are sitting in the front row and talking as if they were at home watching TV.”

Dunn now lives in York but was born in Leeds and grew up in the North East. He admits most of The Full Monty cast go for generic northern accents. That’s fine except in the home of The Full Monty. “When we toured last time to Sheffield a lot of blokes came up afterwards and said they enjoyed it, but the only thing was the accents,” he says.

In addition to being known from Dinnerladies, the actor has appeared in numerous other television series including Coronation Street, Holby City, 55 Degrees North and The Knock.

On stage he was in the original cast of John Godber’s Up ‘n’ Under, Bouncers and Catherine Cookson’s Fifteen Streets and played Perks the porter in The Railway Children at King’s Cross Theatre.

Most recently he performed the role of Mr Shandy in York’s Theatre Royal’s production of Ishandy and has just finished a tour of Brassed Off.

He has appeared at Sheffield Theatres several times including being the sole professional in the Sheffield People’s Theatre community production Lives in Art in 2011.

“I lived in Sheffield for a few years in the Eighties when I was with Compass Theatre where we performed at the Leadmill,” he recalls. “I knew the artistic director, Neil Sissons, from student days at Bretton Hall.”

And talking of students, his son has just finished a Film and Media course at Sheffield Hallam University, and so Dunn senior visited the city regularly. “So much has changed since the Eighties, it’s incredible,” he enthuses.

He is appearing alongside Hollyoaks and EastEnders star Gary Lucy as Gaz, along with other soap actors Luke Morgan, Anthony Lewis,   Louis Emerick, Chris Fountain and Kai Owen as the gang of six.

The female roles are played by Charlotte Powell, Pauline Fleming and Fiona Skinner.

The Full Monty was adapted for the stage by the film’s award-winning screenwriter, Simon Beaufoy, as his first work for the theatre. It premiered in 2013 at the Lyceum, Sheffield, under the direction of Daniel Evans, went on a UK tour and had a brief run in the West End.

There have since been two more tours and this latest is directed by Jack Ryder who was Jamie Mitchell in EastEnders.

The Full Monty runs at the Lyceum Theatre from next Monday to Saturday, April 15.