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Steve DeBruyne
- The Full Monty at Hamilton Place
VIEW Magazine - March 2006
by Kerry Corrigan

            When The Full Monty rolls into Hamilton for a one-night-stand, it will be our last chance to see the Broadway version. After over 400 performances, the Broadway tour of the raucous musical, which has been on the road for over three years, will finally be calling it quits for good soon after.
            That should make for a great night, for as Steve DeBruyne, 25, who plays the “loser” Malcolm in the musical, advises, “one night shows are some of our best audiences.”
            An engaging young man who shared some thoughts about the show from his hotel room in Dayton, Ohio, DeBruyne explained the concept of a “Broadway tour.”
             “It’s the exact same show that was on Broadway, same blocking, same set, same everything. We bring the Broadway show, exactly what was there, to you.”
            The original closed right after Sept. 11.
            “A lot of shows didn’t make it much after that. When the tourism went down so much because everybody was afraid to come out there, a lot of the shows just couldn’t make it anymore. And it’s unfortunate, because The Full Monty was a great show.”  
            “I actually had the opportunity to see it. It was one of the first things I ever saw on Broadway when I moved there. And I fell in love with it.”
            DeBruyne has the unique distinction of being the only Canadian in the cast, which should make the Hamilton Place show somewhat of a home-coming for the actor who was raised in Tillsonburg. He moved to Michigan at 14 with his family, then to New York City at 21 to go to school, and has been there since.
            Like so many others, DeBruyne started out in high school and community theatre “and that’s what put it in me that that’s what I wanted to do.”
            It was The American Musical and Dramatic Academy that drew him to NYC, and he knew he’d found his niche. “It was kind of perfect for what I wanted to do – bypass all the science and math and get right into what I was wanting,” he confesses, with a laugh.
            He has worked professionally before, mostly regional theatre in Ohio, but The Full Monty is his first Broadway tour.
            “It was nominated for a lot of Tony awards but it came out the same year as The Producers and, you know, you couldn’t compete with Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane, even though I think The Full Monty was the better show. But The Producers had the name and a lot of attention.”      
            It’s always a challenge to present a stage version of something already made familiar by a movie.
            DeBruyne saw the musical, and even landed the role, before he got around to seeing the movie which had been such an underground hit in 1997, eventually rising into the main-stream to be nominated for four Academy Awards, including best picture, best director, best screenplay and best original music score, the only award it won.
            “It’s pretty close,” he offers. “A lot of the stuff in the show is right out of the movie, but we have changed a few things.
            “First of all the setting is different. The movie takes place in England, of course; the musical takes place in Buffalo, New York. They’ve Americanized it for audiences over here. You don’t have to struggle through the accents. I think it kind of brings it a little closer to home.”
            He speculates that it will appeal to those who had trouble understanding the thick working-class accents in the movie. “People can identify a little more.”
            There are some name changes, and the addition of a new character, a wise-cracking older woman who helps them to coordinate their act. Other places, jokes are repeated verbatim from the film, “so people who loved the movie can see the show and still have a really good time, and people who didn’t like the movie can come and know they’re not seeing exactly the same thing. It’s a good thing in both cases!”
            DeBruyne’s enthusiasm shines through the phone lines from Ohio, where he’s in his hotel waiting for the evening performance.
            The musical features all original music, so don’t expect any Tom Jones. It tells the story of a group of financially strapped guys who decide that putting on a one-night only male strip revue would be a great way to raise money. “Really what the show is about,” in DeBruyne’s eyes, “is these guys are trying to support their families, and they can’t do it, and that’s the big deal.”
            “That’s why guys can enjoy this show. Guys get scared because they think, ‘oh my God, I’m going to see a male strip show’. That’s not what this is about.”
            He’s heard the comment from men many times – “I didn’t know what to expect, but I had so much fun.”
            DeBruyne expects a mixed bag in the audience, couples of all ages, young and old.
            “We get some ladies who’ll come for a girl’s night which is great because they’re always ready to have fun. They’ll have a couple of drinks before! What we love is when the audience really lets go. We want you to make a ton of noise. We want you to scream and holler and have a lot of fun.
            “The opening of the show kind of sets the scene,” he teases, “and hopefully gets the women screaming so they know they can.”
            “It’s very clever the way this show is choreographed,” he continues. “It’s basically basketball moves, done to music. It’s what these guys understand. They understand sports, so they use sports to put together their show.
            “There’s a number called ‘Michael Jordan’s balls’ where we do our favourite MJ moves,” he says with a laugh.
            DeBruyne describes Malcolm as “kind of a loser,”
             “He’s really lonely,” muses the actor. “He still lives with his Mom.
            “He gets sucked into this scheme by the main character Jerry, pretty much because they need a place to rehearse, and Malcolm is the night security guard at the old mill where the guys used to work. He’s their ticket back into the mill where we can put our show together.”
            He admits he gets some ribbing as the only Canadian in the cast, although he’s lost his Canuck accent, and can definitely discern the difference when he talks to his aunt or his Grandma in Tillsonburg.
            He thinks the Canadian accent is actually hard to do, with its subtle shift in vowel tone. “When the guys (in the show) try to do a Canadian accent, I’ll be like, “that is totally wrong!”
            The Hamilton Place performance will mark his Canadian debut. “I hope the Canadians will scream like it’s a hockey game.”
When asked the final, inevitable question – do you really go the full monty? – DeBruyne gives what he admits is the stock answer - “You have to come to the show and see for yourself.”
            But then, without giving anything away, he does concede that, “you pay for the full monty, you get the full monty. It wouldn’t be fair otherwise to call it The Full Monty.”
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