Reasons to Be Cheerful, which takes its title from Ian Dury and the Blockheads’ 1979 single of the same name, runs at east London’s Theatre Royal Stratford East from 22 October to 13 November 2010, following initial dates from 14 to 16 October at the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich.
Set during a time of political change and economic hardship, Reasons to Be Cheerful is billed as a “riotous skiddling, diddling, bled-white, died-black coming of age tale” that pays tribute to “Dury’s anarchic spirit”.
It’s 1979. Ian Dury and the Blockheads’ new single “Reasons to Be Cheerful (Part 3)” is climbing the charts. Labour has just lost the recent election to the Tories. Vinnie and his mates are big Dury fans and they’d do anything to see him at the Hammersmith Odeon. They don’t have tickets and the gig’s sold out - but then events take a surprising turn.
Born in Harrow in 1942, Dury was left disabled after contracting polio at the age of seven. At the peak of his 1970s success Ian Dury, with his band the Blockheads, was at the vanguard of the punk and post punk movements. Part furious iconoclast, part music hall entertainer, Dury was one of the true originals of the English music scene. He died after a battle with liver cancer on 27 March 2000.
Reasons to Be Cheerful is co-produced by Graeae, the country’s flagship disabled-led theatre company, with the New Wolsey Theatre and Theatre Royal Stratford East. It’s directed by Graeae artistic director Jenny Sealey.
The musical has a book by Paul Sirett, whose previous Stratford East hits include Ray Davies’ Come Dancing and The Big Life. The cast are Nadia Albina, Stephen Collins, Stephen Lloyd, Daniel McGowan, Garry Robson and Karen Spicer, who are backed by a six-piece band.