THE WONDERFULLY unique songs and character of Ian Dury takes centre stage at Coventry’s Belgrade next month as an award-winning production comes to town.
First seen in 2010, Reasons to be Cheerful has gone on to play at theatres and festivals across the country, in stadiums around the world and even in front of The Queen. Spasticus Autisticus, Dury’s disability rights anthem which features in the show, was performed by the cast at the London 2012 Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony.
This coming of age tale rejoices in the infectious and enduring music of Ian Dury and the Blockheads. Featuring classic songs including Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick, Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll and, of course, Reasons to be Cheerful, this show is loud, bold and jubilant.
Hamish Glen, artistic director at the Belgrade said: “Ian Dury and the Blockheads produced an amazing catalogue of music, which you will hear in this show, but importantly, he also challenged the way we think and talk about disability. Reasons to be Cheerful continues his legacy of showing a fighting rebel spirit.”
And the dates in Coventry mark a homecoming of sorts for the show’s writer and live band guitarist Paul Sirett. Paul started his training in drama at Warwick University and, as well as being a former Leamington resident, featured in the city’s music scene in the 1980s in bands such as Kangaroo Court and Bliss.
“I’ve always been a fan of the ground-breaking work produced at the Belgrade and I’m thrilled at the prospect of finally treading the boards and seeing a show of mine produced there,” said Paul.
Fusing music with drama has become something of a speciality for Paul. He is currently working on a revamped production of The Who’s rock opera Tommy, he was nominated for an Olivier for his musical The Big Life and wrote Come Dancing with The Kinks’ Ray Davies. Upcoming productions include a new punk rock musical, Oxy and the Morons.
Topical parallels with the show’s 1979 setting are clear. Today, as nationwide cuts continue to impact on the lives of disadvantaged and disabled people, Graeae Theatre Company’s production puts them centre stage.
Show director Jenny Sealey said: “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.”
As a prominent disabled activist, Ian Dury was a patron and staunch supporter of Graeae. Protest songs are being written all across the country as part of an extensive community engagement programme inviting original songs for a new generation to be included in the tour.
The show features an inclusive cast of 14 actors and musicians. All performances incorporate creative British Sign Language, audio description and captioning.
Reasons to be Cheerful is at the Belgrade on September 8 and 9. For tickets and further details visit belgrade.co.uk or call the box office on 024 7655 3055.