Actor and director Rupert Hill talks about being at the helm of THE FULL MONTY on its final UK tour

After six long years on the stage, THE FULL MONTY heads out on a UK tour for the final time, stopping at Manchester’s Opera House for a week-long run.

Based on his smash hit 1997 film, THE FULL MONTY tells the story of six out-of-work and impoverished steelworkers from Sheffield who decide to bare all in a Chippendale-style show in order to raise some money.

From the cobbles of Weatherfield to the disused steelworks of Sheffield, actor and director Rupert Hill talks to Vicky Edwards about being at the helm of THE FULL MONTY.

You have directed movies, but you are best known as CORONATION STREET’S Jamie Baldwin and for being a previous Full Monty cast member. Does having done the show before give you any sort of advantage as a director?

Yes; it gives me huge insight into the way it works. I don’t need to reinvent the wheel in every scene but there are things that I want to explore. The main thing for me was that all the female characters felt a bit secondary, so I am trying to make the relationship between the couples to be more meaningful and integral to the story.

Is it true that you set the cast homework so they could really understand their characters?

I got the cast to watch the Ken Loach film Raining Stones. It was the film that inspired the Full Monty – they wanted to make a film that Ken Loach characters would watch. I think that’s one of The Full Monty’s strengths and it is unbelievable how relevant that film and our show feels now; payday loans, unemployment and anger at society.

But The Full Monty is also very funny, right?

It is. But comedy is what Northerners use to get by. The financial situation the characters find themselves in is desperate, but that mix of comedy and relatability makes the show part story and part party. Ken Loach meets Cabaret!

Do you think the strip works better on stage than it did in the movie?

I do. It is celebratory and it works better on stage because the audience become part of the scene. The guys stripping at the end feels like a defiant gesture and the crowds go wild!

How wild?

I can’t imagine that I will ever experience that kind of response from an audience again. You can actually feel the sound wave hit you and it is wonderful. But I really want to earn that and for the audience to buy into the story.

THE FULL MONTY runs at Manchester’s Opera House until 23 February 2019.