Students prepare to dance their pants off

becky.korpi

The naked form is referred to by many nicknames – “the buff,” “the birthday suit” and “the nude,” to name a few. But this past week, Forest Roberts Theatre added “The Full Monty” to the list by hosting auditions for the popular Broadway musical, scheduled to take the stage at NMU in February.

“The Full Monty,” based off the 1997 Academy Award-winning film of the same name, tells the story of six unemployed steelworkers. After observing their wives’ enthusiasm for a touring stripping company, the men decide to perform their own strip act at a local club in order to improve their financial situations. While preparing for the show, the men learn to overcome their self-consciousness and establish a camaraderie that will carry them through the rest of their lives.

Sophomore social studies and secondary education major Brenton Fitzpatrick said he auditioned for the musical with no aspirations to perform an on-stage striptease.

“There was a sheet of paper we had to fill out about what kind of role we were going for, and we had to check a box saying whether we’d be comfortable stripping or not. I said I wouldn’t be comfortable with that.”

Despite some of the roles showing a lot of skin, Fitzpatrick said the auditions were hardly scandalous.

“We all came with something to sing – I sang a song from ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ – and then we were taken into the hallway and the choreographer showed us a quick strip dance,” he said. “We only had to take off a sock; it was to see how well we could move.”

No rookie of the stage, Fitzpatrick was in one play every year throughout high school and in “Hello Dolly” at NMU last year. His experience worked in his favor, as he was invited to callbacks for “The Full Monty” on Monday. After three hours of reading lines back and forth as a group and learning samples of the songs, Fitzpatrick said he didn’t have high hopes.

“I didn’t think I did too well,” he said.

To his surprise, he was cast in the role of Ethan Girard, one of the six stripping steelworkers.

“I was very reluctant at first, then thought I might as well go for it,” he said. “Everyone else coaxed me into it by saying things like, ‘It’s with five other guys, you’ll be fine.'”

Director Paul Truckey said he has always wanted to direct “The Full Monty” after seeing it on stage in New York City.

“I thought it was an absolute blast,” he said.

Regardless of the stripping scene, Truckey said there was no hesitation in bringing the musical to NMU.

“It’s part of the play. You can’t go with the half monty,” he said. “The point is these guys strip at the end. It’s the whole celebration. If you don’t do that, there’s no point.”

At the auditions, Truckey said he was not only looking for people who were comfortable with themselves, he was also looking for actors who had a sense of storytelling.

“It takes people who want to have a great deal of fun and have passion for telling a story. This is not a story about guys stripping; it’s about what people will do to gain love, dignity and respect,” he said. “It has tons of heart, and it’s a culmination of what all the actors are willing to do.”

Logistically speaking, Truckey said musicals are more difficult to put together than regular plays.

“With a play you can explore more with the actors, but with musicals you have to fit music, choreography and acting together. They tend to be more of a collaborative effort,” he said.

Fitzpatrick said practices for the musical begin the first day back from Christmas break.

“We have just over a month to pull it all together,” he said. “But working with Paul makes it so much easier. He’s always having fun and is very comfortable with what he does.”

Half the fun of “The Full Monty” is watching the audience get into it, Truckey said.

“The audiences will absolutely love it. Everyone gets into it and at the end it’s real; you’re cheering for them to [strip] and you are rooting for them to take this final step in their lives.”

“The Full Monty” will run from Feb. 20-23.