Oddly it wasn’t the nudity that worried James Redmond when he joined The Full Monty company on what will be its last-ever tour (Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, February 11-16).
“I have done so much of that on TV. No, I was much more worried about the projection and the dialogue and the accent.”
And above all the dancing. As he says, it takes some skilful choreography to get dancing wrong in exactly the way he and the company are supposed to be getting it wrong…
The tour is actually James’s first-ever theatre job after a busy screen career including Finn in Hollyoaks and Abs Denham in Casualty.
“I went straight into TV and I did 11 years back-to-back jobs with only maybe only a week or two between them. I had never really had the chance to audition for theatre until two or three years ago when theatre directors started saying that they had wanted me to do something but that I was always in contract. So it was great to finally do some theatre.”
Especially as it is a very, very different animal to screen work.
The Full Monty tour hit the road last September, so James is well and truly into it by now, but he admits it took quite some adapting.
“I have done stand-up comedy in the UK for nine years, so I am used to getting a few laughs and the immediate reaction and also having eye contact with the audience. But we have not got microphones in most venues, so we are having to project. In screen work, you can do things very subtly; you can convey so much with just a change of expression, but you can’t do that in the theatre. They are not going to see you from row Z!”
At least you don’t have to worry about “shadowing” on stage, though: “Everyone when you are doing television has got perfect lighting which means that you can’t lean an inch to the right or to the left or else you will shadow them. Also you can’t overlap dialogue… otherwise they will have problems in the editing. But on stage, you can shadow and you can overlap as much as you want.”
But there are other considerations instead. It works both ways.
“I have been very lucky to do six years of Casualty. Every episode has got ten guest artists, and often they bring in theatre stars and movie stars, and they play the injured party or the relative of the injured party whereas the actors playing the doctors and the nurses have got to remain much more stoic.
“And sometimes we have actors coming straight in from the stage and they are playing it all very large. In some scenes the director will have to ask them to tone it down a bit because the camera is right on their face and with their big reactions they are going out of shot.
“But then it is just the opposite when you go on stage. If you try to be too subtle and if you don’t liven it up a bit, then you can appear very, very dull.”
It helps of course that The Full Monty is a such a cracking story, the tale of six out-of-work, impoverished steelworkers from Sheffield with nothing to lose.
“It’s a real life-situation. Thatcher’s government persuaded the working classes to buy their council houses and then they shut down the industry. Suddenly their houses were worth half of what they had been and there was no work in the area. People took desperate measures…”