BWW Interviews: Darren Carnall On WEST END BARES!
Stars of stage and screen Jake Canuso, James Dreyfuss, Matt Evers, Jill Halfpenny, Helen Lederer and Harriet Thorpe are amongst the special guest presenters for this year's West End Bares 'Nudedunnit?!' gala performances at Café de Paris in London's West End on Sunday.
It's the fifth year for the event, with performers putting on a show in aid of The Make A Difference Trust (MAD Trust) - the entertainment industry charity dedicated to helping people living with HIV and AIDS.
It's the smaller sibling of the immensely successful Broadway Bares phenomenon, and it all came about when Darren Carnall asked his Legally Blonde director Jerry Mitchell to put on a fundraising event in London.
"I knew he'd been doing that for a very long time, so I pestered him," he says, "and he said, 'You know a lot of people. You make it happen and I'll help you.' So I said, 'OK, I'll put it on!' and that was five years ago now."
Is it difficult to persuade people to get on stage and, well, take their clothes off?
"Sometimes people are a bit British," he admits. "And then it's really interesting - when we get to the day, the people who have been the most reluctant or nervous, once we've done the first show they can't wait to do the second one! They enjoy the rush of adrenalin and the fun of doing the performance so much they can't wait to do it again.
"They're pushing their boundaries as well. As performers, we spend a large amount of our lives getting changed out of costumes and getting fairly naked in front of each other anyway, but some people do find it quite nerve-wracking.
"But now we have a handful of people who have come back and done these shows again and again. It's great - and it makes it easier for me organising it!"
Ah yes, the organisation. When you're putting together two shows and you have to fit round the rehearsal and performance schedule of pretty much every other production in town, that must be quite stressful.
"It's fine. It's one of those things, if I run around and I get it done, I know it's going to be done. I'm a jack of all trades, master of none!"
"I always try and do something they haven't done on Broadway," he says. "We're doing all right so far!"
West End Bares takes place on Sunday 7 September, at 9.30pm and midnight, with the latter being more risqué than the first. Audience members can show their appreciation during 'The Rotation' at the end of the night, when they can donate hard cash (pre-purchased money notes) into the underwear of their favourite performers as they dance around the venue. Those who cannot make it to the show can still join in with the fun and donate through a brand new fundraising initiative this year - the West End Bares Stripathon - which has so far already raised more than £14,000 for MAD Trust. Visit www.westendbares.com to find out more.