The Diary: Revealing preview of a real Full Monty

Full Monty rehearsals take place at Bar Abbey in Sheffield
Full Monty rehearsals take place at Bar Abbey in Sheffield
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So here’s a question this writer never thought he’d have to answer: when you’re the only audience member for five middle-aged Sheffield blokes performing a striptease – a lot of hair, a little flab and the odd Blades tattoo on show – where exactly do you put your eyes?

Is ‘straight to the floor’ rude?

Tonight The Diary is pondering this eyeline etiquette after being the sole person invited to a preview of a very real Full Monty show.

Next Saturday, this quintet will – for charity and because they’d had one too many drinks when it was suggested – take to the stage at Bar Abbey in Abbeydale and perform three dance routines inspired by the BAFTA-winning film. It will climax with the famous red thongs coming off and the modesty-protecting caps being lifted.

“If you think you’re nervous watching us now, imagine how we’re going to feel doing it in front of 200-odd people,” laughs Andy Rushworth, now fully clothed in shirt, tie and Velcro trousers. “None of us have ever even been on stage before.”

Exactly why the five friends – 46-year-old Andy along with Mark Richardson, 50, Neil Askew, 46, Jon Peace, 65 and Bob Foster, 59, all of Woodseats, Nether Edge and Hillsborough – are getting on stage now is open to interpretation.

To raise money for cancer charity Ballboys, yes. But also perhaps because in an age when South Yorkshire is once more experiencing economic difficulties, they see themselves as real Robert Carlyles, not unemployed steel workers but still representative of a city that faces hardships with humour.

“We love the film but we’re not ripping it off,” says Mark who runs LP Record Store in Arundel Street. “Although if we had to pick characters I’d say Bob was the one with the massive...”

We’ll cut that last word because there’s also a lady present. That’s Amy Baler, a burlesque dancer-turned choreographer who’s been helping the lads.

“When I came to their first rehearsal six months ago, I almost walked out,” notes the 34-year-old of Nether Edge. “It was chaos. They’re much better now.”

Better or not, however, it seems not everyone is happy with the performance.

“My daughter is 18,” says Andy, manager of Bar Abbey. “And she’s mortified I’m doing this. I’ve told her it’s for a good cause but I don’t think she’ll be coming.”

March 22. Night includes live music. Tickets £10 from Bar Abbey.