A Blast from the Past!

The ‘Fool Monty’ – 2004

Following on from the enormously successful motion pictures ‘The Full Monty’ and ‘Sister Act’ the band chose a similar theme for its performance in the entertainment section at the 2004 Canterbury Provincial Brass Bands Festival. This particular year the event was held in Timaru.

The New Brighton Band’s preparations for the contest had begun in earnest. Auditions for the four starring roles in the ‘Fool Monty’ were not required as it soon became evident that only the bands Trombone and Euphonium players were game enough to take their clothes off in public. None of the ‘Monty’s’ had any prior stage experience whatsoever and the inner most workings of gymnasiums and health clubs were foreign to them all judging by their centre weighted physiques.

Work on the props had started simultaneously. Matching black trousers were purchased from a second hand clothing store for little cost and the stitching was carefully unpicked and new tear-away Velcro seams were sewn into the garments. Four sets of matching underwear in band colours was bought from a menswear shop and after a trial fitting it became clearly evident that one size did not fit all. ‘Big Jim’ was a standout performer in this department.

A frantic search of virtually every menswear store in the city eventually turned up a pair that he could ease himself into. The undergarments were adorned with a strategically placed sequined treble clef. This helped divert some of the attention away from ‘Big Jim’ by giving the audience four points of focus (if they needed them).

Meanwhile, back in the band room a young cornet player with some prior singing experience began rehearsing the lyrics of ‘You can leave your hat on’ to the accompaniment of the remaining band. Our ‘Nuns’ had also been rehearsing their rendition of ‘I will Follow’ from the Whoopie Goldberg movie and within 5 weeks both performances were ready to go.

To further prepare the band for the uncertainties associated with being on stage a dress rehearsal performance was organised in front of an aging congregation at a nearby Anglican Church. The concert progressed without a hitch and was enjoyed by all. The ‘Monty’s’ later acknowledged that they had all quite enjoyed getting their kit off and we understand that the number of people attending worship at the Church improved in the weeks following our concert.

A week later in Timaru we were repeating the performance at the festival proper. The band felt somewhat dwarfed on the full stage and the nerves soon began to show. After a stuttering start due to an ill prepared trombone player jumping the gun the Monty’s quickly got into, or rather, out of their stride. What a blast! It’s appeal to the audience and the contest judge was later summed up perfectly on listening to the judges audio commentary.

On the tape the slow start drew complete silence from the audience and a simple concerned remark from the judge, ‘Oh dear’. As the shoes and bow ties were surreptitiously removed a faint gasp could be heard as the audience suddenly realised what the band was doing …. Not a sound from the Judge. The white shirts were removed next and a cheer was let out as the four garments sailed over the orchestra pit into the front row of seating …. Still no word from the judge.

It was only as the Monty’s began to seductively unzip their trouser flies that the Judge’s enquiring voice could be heard to say over the noisy wolf whistles of the crowd …. ‘They’re not’? The choreography suddenly became less structured as the Velcro lined black band trousers were violently ripped away from their frames briefly revealing . . . . . ‘Big Jim.’ The crowd went wild and the judge …. well, he started to giggle. And giggle he did! The Monty’s formal band caps next came into play and were smartly removed from balding heads to disguise pale, scantily clad nether regions.

A chant started, growing in intensity as the sequined treble clefs were revealed for all to see. Big Jim was enjoying himself but not half as much as John was, judging from the ear to ear grin on his face. The audio tape confirmed the fact that the end was nigh with the raucous chant of ‘off, off, off from the gallery. The judges girly giggle became a throaty laugh and then . . . . Well that was for those who were there!

It would be fair to say that the Monty’s were a little uncertain as to which direction to look and point when taking the final curtain bows. ’Well done!’ was the judges final cheerful comment before he quickly reverted back to the serious demeanor and task for which he was being paid. – ‘Well done indeed!’

A section winning performance and new ground broken in Canterbury Brass Band circles.

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