The pioneering disabled-led theatre company Graeae has confirmed tour dates and venues for the return of their acclaimed musical Reasons to be Cheerful, which will hit the road this autumn.
The show enjoyed a hugely successful tour in 2012, which was seen by almost 12,000 people, and a series of concert performances followed last year.
Now this joyful and defiant production will visit seven regions around the country, kicking off at the Belgrade, Coventry in September and rounding off the tour with a two week run at Theatre Royal, Stratford East in London.
First seen in 2010, Reasons to be Cheerful has gone on to play at theatres and festivals across the UK, in stadiums around the world, and even in front of The Queen.
Spasticus Autisticus, the Ian Dury-penned disability rights anthem which features in the show, was performed by the cast at the London 2012 Paralympic Games opening ceremony and, despite being banned by the BBC in 1981, broadcast worldwide in front of an audience of over 1 billion.
This show is loud, bold and jubilant, a coming of age tale that rejoices in the infectious and enduring music of Ian Dury and the Blockheads.
It features, among others, classic songs including Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick; Plaistow Patricia; Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll; Sweet Gene Vincent; What A Waste and the titular Reasons to be Cheerful (Part 3).
The parallels with the show’s 1979 setting are clear. Today, as nationwide cuts continue to impact on the lives of d/deaf and disabled people, Graeae Theatre Company puts them centre stage.
As a prominent disabled activist, Ian Dury was a patron and staunch supporter of Graeae. The extraordinary wit and wisdom of Ian Dury and the Blockheads music and lyrics are brought to life by an inclusive cast of 15 actors and musicians.
It is 1979. Labour has just lost the General Election to the Tories. Strikes rock the nation and Ian Dury and the Blockheads’ Reasons to be Cheerful (Part 3) is climbing the charts.
Die-hard fans Vinnie and Colin are on a mission to see Ian Dury and the Blockheads play Hammersmith Odeon. With no tickets to a sold-out gig their journey throws more at them than they could have ever expected.
Using Graeae’s signature theatrical language, all performances of Reasons to be Cheerful seamlessly include British Sign Language, audio description and creative captioning.
Jenny Sealey, director of Reasons to be Cheerful and artistic director at Graeae Theatre Company, 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.
“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”.
Jemima Dury, daughter of Ian Dury, said: “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 energizing, 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!”
Chaz Jankel, original Blockhead and co-writer of many songs in the show, 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 heartwarming 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.”
2017 Tour Dates
September 8/9, Belgrade Theatre Coventry September 12-16, Derby Theatre September 26-30, Nuffield Theatre, Southampton October 3-7, New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich October 10-14, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds October 17-21, Liverpool Everyman October 24-November 4, Theatre Royal Stratford East.