A Chat with the Gentlemen of The Full Monty
We sat down with some of the gentlemen of The Full Monty. Here’s what they had to say about why they enjoy the show and what it really feels like to go “The Full Monty.”
Left to right: Steven Freitas, Richard Van Slyke, Ron Christopher Jones, and Jonathan Sangster
What persuaded you to be in The Full Monty?
Steven Freitas (Jerry): I think the thing that most persuaded me to do The Full Monty was the writing and the journey these characters take to get to that final scene. This isn’t a show about strippers. It’s a show about average guys. These guys have all been laid off from their jobs, for most of them, it’s been 18 months. There is so much at stake for them in each of their lives. They have all lost their confidence. They don’t feel like men. So, you get to this final scene and you want these 6 guys to succeed simply because you know they need it. Each one of them needs it. It’s their form of freedom, being stripped down so-to-speak to what they are, and what they strive to be, men.
Ron Christopher Jones (Horse): I saw SDMT’s production 10 years ago, and fell in love with the show and the role of Horse. I’m glad I’m finally of age to play him.
Richard Van Slyke (Harold): I was in the show a few years ago and it was one of the most memorable productions in my many years of theatre. The show was performed in an intimate 99-seat house in Los Angeles. We became a family. I made some of my closest friends working on that production. Every night the audience was completely swept up in the story and cheering us on and on their feet every night.
Jonathan Sangster (Malcolm): Honestly, it was the character, Malcolm, and his story that persuaded me to audition. It’s such an accurate portrayal of someone with low self-esteem and perhaps some social anxiety who finds strength through an unlikely group of guys. Not to mention the beautiful song Malcolm has in the second act, which in my opinion, may be one of the most beautiful pieces of musical theatre written.
The show requires the leads to strip off all their clothes — did you have any concerns, fear, or trepidation about this? How are you feeling about the big reveal?
Richard: Fear! It’s a scary thought and it’s a very vulnerable feeling when you’re nude in front of others. But it is handled well in the context of the show and doing it the first time in front of the other guys was daunting. But once we got past the first run-through, it was more comfortable and we were able to “let it go.”
Steven: In the words of my character Jerry, “Gentlemen we only live once!”
Ron: During the rehearsal process I was mostly in denial. There is so much more to the piece than a striptease. I’m really caught up in getting everything else in the show right, that I don’t have too much time to think about it. I will say, having a 2 1/2-year-old has taken away some of the mystic of being naked. It’s really no big deal to them!
Have you ever stripped down on stage before? Any special things you did to prepare?
Jon: I have not! This is a first for me. I haven’t done anything too special to prepare. I’ve been hitting the gym and eating well. Not because these guys need to have amazing bodies, but just so that, I, Jonathan, the actor, feels confident enough that all that takes over is the character, Malcolm.
Steven: I have been down to my underwear on stage for a production of “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.” To prepare for that show I was working out a lot!
What is your favorite thing about the show?
Ron: Working with these amazing stars. Each person in this show carries the show. Everyone has a moment to shine, and shine they do. I often watch scenes I’m not in and say, “Man I want to be in this show!” Then someone reminds me, I am!
Jon: My favorite thing is the camaraderie that develops between the six guys.
Steven: I’m enjoying this process so much. Everybody has been so great to work with, and I love the writing and the music. It’s a great time.
Richard: The music. The story. The script. Everything.
Why should audiences come see The Full Monty?
Richard: It’s a universal story about how a group of underdogs come together and work to make something special. It’s not about the strip. We all can relate to one of these guys. They’re all down on their luck (or misfits) for one reason or another. It’s about the men’s journey, and I think everyone can identify with that.
Steven: It’s a really fun night of theatre. It has everything: it’s hilarious, heartfelt, the music is great, the story is great and the cast is awesome. It’s just a whole lot of fun.
Ron: It’s a show about relationships, and overcoming adversity. Turning lemons into lemontini’s. Unconditional love, and acceptance. Who wants more of that?
Jon: Audiences should come for the heart this show has. If all they’re coming for is to see some dudes take their clothes off, I think they’ll be sorely disappointed! The show is so much more than just men stripping, and I think the audiences will fall in love with all six of these regular, never stripped before in their lives, guys!