Graeae’s Reasons To Be Cheerful back on tour in the autumn

Reasons to be Cheeful Cast by Patrick Baldwin

The previous Reasons To Be Cheerful cast. Picture: Patrick Baldwin

Pioneering theatre company Graeae is to take its acclaimed musical Reasons To Be Cheerful back on the road this autumn.

Coinciding with the 40th anniversary of Ian Dury and the Blockheads’ album ‘New Boots and Panties’, the show which celebrates the music of the legendary punk band will begin its 2017 tour at the Belgrade, Coventry on 4 September.

First performed in 2010, the fully accessible production was seen by nearly 12,000 people when it last toured the UK in 2012, the same year the cast performed Dury’s disability rights anthem ‘Spasticus Autisticus’ at the London 2012 Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony.

Written by playwright, dramaturg and musician Paul Sirett, and directed by Graeae Theatre Company’s artistic director Jenny Sealey, Reasons To Be Cheerful features an inclusive cast of 15 actors and musicians.

Announcing details of the tour, Sealey said: “I am beyond thrilled that our Reasons To Be Cheerful gang are dusting off their Dr. Martens and going back out on the road one final time in a new production of our hit show, thanks to support from Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring Fund.

“We will be well and truly raising the roof up and down the country with the brilliantly anarchic music of Ian Dury and the Blockheads, whose punk sentiment speaks louder than ever as we fight against the brutal cuts that deaf and disabled people, and millions of others, have faced in recent years.”

Dury’s daughter Jemima commented: “I’m so excited for everyone who will see Reasons To Be Cheerful on this 2017 tour. You are in for a treat! It’s energising, it’s moving and it’s enormous fun. It comes as close as you can get to a 1979 Ian Dury and the Blockheads gig. Graeae gives us diverse, accessible theatre at its best. This is how all theatre should be!”

Original Blockhead and co-writer of many of the much-loved songs featured in the show, Chaz Jankel said: “It is amazing to think that 37 years after Ian and I wrote ‘Reasons To Be Cheerful (Part 3)’, the song still has such an impact and sounds so fresh. The Blockheads still perform it at every gig and the vibe in the audience and on stage definitely goes up a couple of notches as we lock in our reasons to be cheerful groove!

“The Graeae production has added a whole new lease of life to the song and legacy of Ian Dury. The extraordinary energy and skill that the cast bring to this original musical production is edgy yet heart-warming and mesmerising. The respect they have for Ian’s lyrics and lust for life is undeniable. If Ian were alive I am sure he would be laughing his head off and applauding the bravura of this very talented ensemble.”

The tour will play Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre on 8 and 9 September before moving on to Derby Theatre (12-16 September); Nuffield Theatre, Southampton (26-30 September); New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich (3-7 October); West Yorkshire Playhouse, Ipswich (10-14 October); Liverpool Everyman (17-21 October); and Theatre Royal Stratford East (24 October-4 November).

Using Graeae’s signature language all performances include British Sign Language, audio description and creative captioning.

Angela Thomas

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