A Taranaki director is on the hunt for six ordinary blokes who are willing to get their gear off in the name of art and entertainment. 

After years of trying, theatre director John Lawson has secured the rights for the amateur New Zealand premiere of the award-winning show The Full Monty

Now he just needs to find the men who are keen to strip night after night to Tom Jones’ version of the iconic hit, You Can Leave Your Hat On.

Based on the smash hit film and adapted for the stage by Oscar-winning writer Simon Beaufoy, The Full Monty will open at New Plymouth Little Theatre in July. 

Like the 1997 film, the stage show follows six unemployed steelworkers from Sheffield who form a male striptease group in the hope of making some cash and rebuilding relationships. 

Lawson says he’s not looking for a troupe of chippendales or buff bodybuilders to play those six characters. 

“These six men are normal, working blokes from a rather poor area. They’re ordinary guys, they could be anyone you know. We’ve just got to find them,” Lawson says. 

In fact, Lawson says he is looking for the biggest cast Little Theatre has had in decades – 28 people. 

“There’s only six people stripping, so not all 28 will be getting their gear off. We need 20 men and eight women, and some of the roles are non-speaking roles, so there really is something for everyone, even the people new to theatre.”

The multi-award winning Fox Searchlight Pictures film took the world by storm, breaking box office records and netting more than $250 million. 

Lawson, who grew up in the UK and moved to New Zealand in 1979, remembers watching the film when it first came out. 

It’s always been one of my favourite movies. It’s got a great storyline, and I really enjoy that British sense of humour.

“I’ve pretty much wanted to do The Full Monty as a theatre show since the movie came out, and I looked into it about six or seven years ago. The amateur rights weren’t available yet, but they are now, and we’ve got them, and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Lawson says as well as being a rip-roaring comedy, the story touches on more serious issues – like unemployment, depression, and the rights of fathers. 

“It’s not just a strip show. It’s a play based on a tough time in history, a time when unemployment was high and crime was high. So, yes it’s a play that centres around a strip show, but it’s more than that too. I hope everyone will come and see this.”

The Full Monty is on at New Plymouth Little Theatre from July 14 to July 31. Open auditions for all 28 roles will be held on Saturday March 13, 1pm, at Te Piere on the WITT Campus. For more information or for a copy of the script, please contact production manager Tasha Paton on tashapaton@gmail.com

Words and photo by Taryn Raynes

Photo caption: Theatre director John Lawson is looking for six men who are willing to leave their hats, and only their hats on for The Full Monty.