GARY Lucy is getting used to taking his clothes in front of complete strangers.

It’s something he’s been doing for the past five weeks - and will continue to do until April as the musical The Full Monty tours the country.

The production opened in Manchester for a week-long run at the Opera House.

“It’s a show which really connects to audiences,” said the former Bill and Footballers’ Wives star.

Gary plays the main character Gaz, one of a group of six Sheffield men, who lose their jobs and decide to form a male strip group to make ends meet. Based on the hit movie, the stage version is proving equally successful.

“The reaction has been fantastic,” said Gary. “The shows are selling out and we get a standing ovation every night.

“There is a lot of pathos in the show. The main characters have issues which a lot of people can relate to.

“You’ve got the guy suffering with his sexuality, a guy dealing with weight issues, another losing his son and one who has lost his job. All of them have a lack of self worth and feel a bit lost.

“It’s when they come together as a group it brings them all together and it really does make for a special evening.”

The production stars a number of familiar faces from our TV screens including Andrew Dunn (best known as Tony in Dinnerladies) as Gerald, Louis Emerick (Mick Johnson in Brookside) as Horse, Chris Fountain , Kai Owen (Rhys in Torchwood as Dave and Anthony Lewis (Marc Reynolds in Emmerdale) as Lomper.

“We all get on really well,” said Gary. “It’s proving to be a fun tour to be part of.”

As for the infamous final scene with Tom Jones’ You Can Leave Your Hat on booming around the theatre, Gary is pretty phlegmatic.

“It’s just part of the show,” he said. “Everyone knows how the show ends. The first couple of times you do it, it is a bit daunting. But after a while it just becomes second nature. Anyway we’re all in it together.”

So did the prospect of stripping in front of over a thousand people on a nightly basis send the cast rushing for the gym in preparation for the tour?

“Luckily we’re all supposed to be different shapes and sizes,” said Gary, “so we can get away with being as we are.”

Gary said that he had no hesitation in going on tour in The Full Monty.

“I met David Pugh the producer who also did the Gary Barlow musical The Girls and has done loads of different shows.” he said. “He’s fantastic and then I went to see the show in the West End and just thought it would be a great opportunity to for my first theatre production to play the lead so I went for it. It’s fantastic. I’m having a great time.”

Gary will be with the show until it ends its run in April.

“We do get a break over Christmas which is nice but then we’re back on the road After that? I don’t know what I’ll be doing but at the moment I’m fully-focused on the show.”

n The Full Monty, Manchester Opera House, until Saturday. Details from 0844 871 3018