IT may be the last ever tour of this particular production, but it is the story that keeps on giving. Originally an award-winning movie, as a stage play The Full Monty has won both awards and hearts. In fact, such is the show’s popularity that as fast as one tour gets underway, producers David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers are compelled to map out the next. F

“It is special,” insists Gary Lucy (famous for playing Luke Morgan in Hollyoaks as well as for roles in EastEnders, The Bill, Footballers’ Wives and as a Dancing on Ice winner) who plays Gaz. Having starred in almost every ‘Monty’ tour to date, he knows just how readily people fall for this funny, poignant and bitter-sweet story.

“People really love it. From proper theatregoers in Cambridge to Blackpool hen parties, everyone has an absolute ball. It is a gift of a role for me.”

Louis Emerick, recently on our screens in Coronation Street, concurs. “This is the third tour for me and it really is a special show. It is a great story that still resonates now. They are also a lovely company to work and travel with.”

Telling the story of six out-of-work steelworkers from Sheffield who put on a strip show to raise much-needed cash, the film went on to become one of the most successful British movies of all time.

Joe Gill, familiar to Emmerdale viewers as Finn Barton, believes the play’s credibility is key to its success.

“It is my first time on the show,” he said, “but everyone knows how iconic it is and what a culture it has, so they come knowing that they will enjoy it.”

Another ‘Monty’ virgin, James Redmond has done lengthy stints in Hollyoaks and Casualty but has never toured in a stage play before. However, that doesn’t stop him recognising the show’s broad appeal.

“We can all relate to it and it is very moving. The poverty these guys lived in; Maggie Thatcher encouraged them to buy their council houses and then closed the steelworks so they were desperate. It’s a heart-warming story that still feels relevant today. Because half of us voted remain and half voted leave none of us know what the future holds.”

Liz Carney who plays Jean is keen to chip in. “It appeals to men and women of all ages and from all classes. The girls in the play tell their own story, so audiences connect with them too.”

Playing Mandy, Amy Thompson voices her agreement, adding: “And the thing that I find really special is that it gets people coming to the theatre who haven’t been before. “

Well known for roles including Rhys in Torchwood and Pete in Hollyoaks, Kai Owen returns to the role of Dave and admits that he loves the audience reaction.

“They may start shouting at the start, but this isn’t Dream Boys or The Chippendales and as soon as they realise that it is a story they settle down,” he said. “It is so well written that they get immersed and carried along until the end. Then everyone goes crazy!”

A play that covers a huge range of modern issues – as well as unemployment themes include financial insecurity, mental health, divorce, sexuality and body image – the mix of comedy, pathos, warmth and sadness is perfectly balanced.

There’s no way to pussy foot around the subject of the boys getting naked, so I ask outright: Is it absolutely terrifying?

“I’m sure we’ll break Joe and James in gently,” says Louis with a naughty grin, recounting the first day in 2014 when he first had the ‘undress’ rehearsal.

“We had only been rehearsing for three days and we hardly knew each other. But we did it, although we all looked each other firmly in the eye! From then on it was pretty easy. It’s much more of a man’s story in many ways and it is great when you see blokes in the audience.”

“It is done really well on stage, although you do have to trust the lighting technicians, and some venues do have slow-closing curtains,” chuckles Andrew, best known for playing Tony in TV’s Dinnerladies.

Bringing the show to Manchester is something special to many of the cast, with it being Joe’s home town and Louis no doubt catching up with his Corrie mates.

“The Opera House is always great and yes; I’ll be seeing the Corrie lot,” he said. “I’m going back to do a few more episodes; there is a bit unfinished business between Mike and Liz there.”

The Full Monty, Manchester Opera House, Monday, February 18 to Saturday, February 23. Details from 0845 871 3018 or