A MALE stripper is set to warm up Wearside theatre audiences.
Sunderland Amateur Operatic Society has recruited Earl Gill to play the part of a professional stripper in its musical production of The Full Monty that begins tomorrow.
Earl, 20, will perform a strip-tease at the start of the Sunderland Empire show.
Production manager Peter Oliver said members of the group had been to see the show at its only other UK performance in Newcastle, and had felt it needed some extra zing at the beginning.
“It’s something to get the people in the auditorium all revved-up and ready for the rest of the show,” he said.
Earl will play the professional stripper who inspires the central characters in the Full Monty to stage their own strip-show to make some cash.
The show is based on the American musical version of The Full Monty, which differs from the 1997 hit British film.
“I’m the one who gives the guys the idea,” said Earl, who admits the prospect of stripping in front of a theatre audience is somewhat nerve-wracking.
The 20-year-old dancer, who has performed in a number of shows in the North East – including The Producers at the Theatre Royal in Newcastle – has already been stripping down in rehearsals.
“It’s terrifying beforehand, but when it comes to it I just do it – I’m in the zone,” he said.
“If you can strip on stage you can do anything – it’s character-building.”
Peter said Earl had also been helping choreograph the dance routines in the show, as only one of the other cast members had any experience at all.
The dancer got involved in the show after his dad Leon, 53, was cast as the character Horse.
Peter said the group had been very keen to find a black actor to play Horse, as in the film.
He said Earl had made a big contribution to improving the dance performances since he joined the cast six weeks ago, building on the successes of choreographer Kathleen Knox.
The show is directed Brian Leach, and Mark Hall is the musical director.
* The Full Monty will be staged at the Sunderland Empire from tomorrow until Saturday. Tickets are £16. Tel. 0844 871 3022.
THE Full Monty cast hope their stripping skills will help save the Sunderland Amateur Operatic Society from financial problems.
The society was founded in 1893, and today has about 90 members. But recent productions have left a big hole in the group’s accounts, which could ultimately lead to its closure.
Peter said: “The society has been going for well over 100 years and it would be such a shame if it were to fold.
“We made a loss of £14,000 from our last couple of shows and it would be great to be able to raise that through this show and pay our creditors off.”
He added: “We still have the same overheads as a professional company using the Empire.”
Peter said the group was trying something different this time in a bid to pull in the punters and balance the books.
The audience will be able to take home a souvenir of the show in the form of a Calendar Girls–style calendar featuring the cast, which are being sold to help raise funds.