Friday, July 07, 2006

Simon Delaney's Full Monty

“They didn’t go “the full monty” in the film,” says Simon Delaney, star of the forthcoming Irish premier of The Full Monty: The Musical. “But we do. I swear...” Coming as it does from an actor beloved for his rounder, fuller figure, rather than his buff, toned abs, it is hard to know if this is a threat or a promise.

But the fraught area of male body image is not something that holds any fear for Delaney, whose face and voice have seldom been absent from Irish life since the cult RTE series, Bachelor’s Walk put a rocket under his career.

Right now his voice can be heard on RTE’s Chain Reaction series, he is filming a Christmas special of Bachelor’s Walk, rehearsing for The Full Monty, the run of which will see him straight back into a role in Stones In His Pockets at the Gaiety.

So is this the hardest working man in (Irish) showbiz? “I think I’m cheap, that’s what it is,” says Delaney. “It’s like my father says: “If you work for nothing, you’ll always find plenty of work.”

That Bachelor’s Walk Christmas special which has required, among other things, that Delaney spend portions of the summer walking around town days in a duffle coat, has helped with weight control. But it is a difficult balance, the actor suggests. While slimming down might be equivalent of killing the goose that laid the golden egg, “you don’t want to have a career as the leading man’s fat mate”

“But I generally consider myself pretty fit anyway. A play a lot of golf, even if I wouldn’t know what to do if I went to the gym. Shows like Stones in His Pockets, where you’re playing for two hours with no breaks and doing 36 characters between two of you...well, that kinda builds up stamina...”

But none of that Delaney’s over-employment can distract him from “keeping it real” musical theatre-wise. He has for many years been heavily involved with the Association of Irish Musical Societies (AIMS). “It is a huge culture in Ireland,” says the actor. “There are 75,000 people involved in amateur musical theatre in Ireland.” Delaney himself not only takes part in events such as AIMS annual awards ceremony, but also directs for amateur companies, such as the Malahide Musical Society .

“There really is a massive appetite for musical in Ireland,” he says. “You can see it from the shows that do come, like say Starlight Express, which will come to the Point and will sell out. But I really wish there were more musicals that began here, as well as the imported shows...sure there was The Wiremen and The Ha’Penny Bridge, but they were both historical musicals. What Ireland really needs is a contemporary Irish musical...”

Bachelor’s Walk auteur John Carney, says Delaney, has often threatened to fill the gap. So will that series be the next “musicalization” to hit the Irish stage?

“Oh, yes. Bachelor’s Walk...The Musical...On the Point...”