Dance in Front of Me, I’m Naked! – Denise Burnham

As an experienced sewer and dresser of many years with the Northumberland Players productions, I have one special memory that never ceases to halt me in my tracks to enjoy a good belly laugh regardless of my surroundings.

The Players rendition of The Full Monty was a fun loving, literally pant splitting adventure from the first practice to the final curtain call but it’s the opening night’s show that will be forever etched in my mind.

I had the pleasure of being the dresser dedicated to one of our leading men, the infamous David Glover. Being the outgoing joker that David is I knew we were in for a good time and an excellent run of this production. Little did I realize at the start just how “full” the Monty would actually be.

I should mention at this point that one of our other leading Monty men was Dave Clark. Anyone who knows the two “Daves” is well aware of the difference in the two actors’ physiques. Our extraordinary costume designer, Suzanne Mess, was always meticulous to the millimetre about how the costumes should fit the actors. Her precision designs were custom made for one body and one body only. That being said, you should have a good idea where this story is going.

A rehearsal for The Full Monty. Dave Clark is far left, Dave Glover is bottom right.

By opening night, after one hellish week of continuous late night practices, poor Glover was struggling with the onset of a cold, fever and a very hoarse voice. Being the trooper that he was, David sang and danced his heart out that night, coming off between numbers having me mop him down and try to get some water into him. His speaking voice was almost gone now and it was often difficult to hear what he was saying to me over the music.

It was time for the big scene, the one we had all been waiting for. David comes off into the wings for his change but is looking at me like a desperate, wild eyed animal. He is sweating like no other while fighting to breathe and tell me something. All he could rasp out was “ginch, ginch”. The stage manager and I looked at each other, like, what the hell? David finally blurts out, “it’s not my ginch”.

Being a calm, experienced dresser I ripped off Glover’s pants only to find Dave Clark’s 30″ g-string wide open hanging precariously on Glover’s thigh.Glover had taken the wrong DAVE g-string. I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry or run. What a picture! Naked Glover, sickly and sweating like the Nile, half wearing someone else’s g-string swinging in mid-air, as we both listened to the music count down to his next entry.

A scene from The Full Monty.

So, there we are, in the dark, in a panic. I’m on my hands and knees desperately fighting with an elastic band trying to stretch Clark’s ginch somehow onto Glover’s body. After almost losing an eye and many attempts at defying all laws of physics and gravity, the best I could hope for was faith in my trusty safety pins. Success was finally mine. That g-string was pulled so tight I am sure the circulation was cut off to David’s legs but I didn’t care, the third pin held.

Quickly, I threw Glover’s tearaway pants on him, reassuringly patted him on the back and shoved him onstage in time for his cue. Only to hear at that precise moment Glover’s fearful groan, “the pin popped, I’ll be naked!”.     

Much to my horror, laughter and amazement, David Glover single handedly provided everyone on stage left with the best entertainment money could possibly buy. We all stood frozen, clutching each other in hysterical laughter as we witnessed poor David trotting his way through the big two step dance sequence before the big strip scene. In his hoarse voice and discreetly out of the side of his mouth “Chretien” style, David was desperately trying to tell one of the other Monty men to “DANCE IN FRONT OF ME, I’M NAKED, NO GINCH”. Backstage, we had now all lost total control of ourselves, rendered completely helpless with laughter as we watched this play out. How was David going to handle the big moment?

And there it was, the big finale. The music rose to a peak, the bright white backlighting came on and WHAM!!! all hats were off. And there he was, my Monty man Glover, in all his “full” glory, smiling, relieved and sicker than a dog but in that moment the very essence of the phrase, “the show must go on”. What a guy! What a moment! What a success! David had handled the situation masterfully.

The big finale of The Full Monty. Dave Glover is second from the right, Dave Clark beside him far right.

I was very proud of David that night as I witnessed the art of a true professional working through the difficulties of live theatre. I have honestly never laughed harder nor for better reason than I did that night in my entire life. I am grateful to have shared The Full Monty experience with him as his dresser and friend. While I have had numerous memorable moments over the years with the Players, opening night with my Monty Glover is my most memorable one of all, which is sure to make me smile well into my golden years. Thank you David.