An R18 comedy about a bunch of Kiwi blokes grappling with the idea of taking their clothes off in public is playing out in real life for seven Northland men performing the lead roles.
Ladies Night will be staged in six Far North towns from June 22 to July 6, and is the first show Kerikeri Theatre Company has taken on the road.
Director Janna Sicely said the story centred on a group of men who were down on their luck.
''When they hear male strippers are performing at their local pub they peer in the door and see these gay guys making lots of money and decide they can do it too. They go through all sorts of trials and tribulations — insecurity about their bodies, relationship difficulties, confidence issues — but they overcome and they perform. And by God, do they perform,'' she said.
Sicely, who also plays the part of dance teacher Glenda, said rehearsals had been fascinating because the actors were experiencing the same emotions and insecurities as the characters.
''The play is playing out in real life. It's a really interesting process for these guys.''
As well as dance and acting lessons the men had joined a gym and were ''working out pretty intensely'' to boost their confidence about baring themselves on stage.
Sicely said the show was open to anyone aged 18 or over but would appeal most to women aged 25-plus. It would be performed over eight nights in Opononi, Kaitaia, Haruru, Russell, Kerikeri and Taipa. Most shows would be in pubs, another case of reality mirroring the storyline.
''We wanted to bring theatre to places it doesn't usually reach. Nothing like this comes to the Far North so we're doing it ourselves,'' Sicely said.
The cast hail from Kohukohu, Kaikohe and Kerikeri with choreography by hip hop tutor Alannah Curtis and live music by Kerikeri band Scarlet Fever.
Ladies Night was written by Kiwis Stephen Sinclair and Anthony McCarten in 1987, was translated into 15 languages and remains the most commercially successful play in New Zealand theatre history.
When the hit movie The Full Monty was released in 1997 Sinclair and McCarten took the producers to court alleging it was a rip-off of their play. The movie's producers eventually settled out of court.
Go to www.kerikeritheatrecompany.com for more information about show dates and venues.