Performer news for Graeae’s 2017 Reasons To Be Cheerful tour

Credit Patrick Baldwin_ John Kelly & Daniel McGowan.jpg Graeae Theatre Company. "Reasons To Be Cheerful"

John Kelly and Daniel McGowan in Graeae Theatre Company’s Reasons To Be Cheerful. Picture: Patrick Baldwin

Casting has been announced for pioneering theatre company Graeae’s return to the road with its acclaimed musical Reasons To Be Cheerful 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 seven-venue 2017 tour at the Belgrade, Coventry on 4 September.

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.

A mix of performers who originated the show in 2010 plus newcomers, the cast includes Beth Hinton-Lever in her Graeae debut, Gerald McDermott, Joey Hickman and Max Runham.

Stephen Lloyd, Stephen Collins, Dan McGowan, Karen Spicer, Wayne ‘Pickles’ Norman and Jude Mahon will all return to their roles from the successful 2010 and 2012 tours.

With John Kelly on lead vocals, the onstage band is completed by Paul Sirett (guitar, also writer), Nixon Rosembert (bass) and Paula Stanbridge-Faircloth (drums).

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 Drury’s disability rights’ anthem ‘Spasticus Autisticus’ at the London 2012 Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony.

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.

Announcing casting, Graeae’s artistic director Sealey said: “Directing Reasons To Be Cheerful remains one of my career highlights. I am delighted that we’re not only reuniting many of the original cast members, but also welcoming the gloriously talented Joey Hickman, Gerard McDermott and Max Runham to the company. We are always aiming to work with Deaf or disabled artists new to Graeae, so are thrilled that Beth Hinton-Lever will also be joining the family.

“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.”

Angela Thomas


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