OUR DAY OUT
Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York
Willy Russell's Our Day Out was a massive hit when the original TV play was screened in 1977 – and Russell transformed it into a hilarious, heart-warming musical, first in 1983 and then in a reworked version in 2009.
Pick Me Up brought the updated version, which features new songs co-written with director Bob Eaton, to York in a production that was anything but "boring" – the catchphrase of two of the pupils in Mrs Kay's unruly Progress Class, who are unleashed from the classroom for a school coach trip.
The class are bound for a fun day at Alton Towers ... until killjoy Mr Briggs gets on board and the destination is changed to North Wales. The show is packed full of catchy songs, lively dance numbers and instantly recognisable characters.
Robert Readman's production featured film projections by Adam Moore Tech 247 that constantly
changed as the action moved from school, to a zoo, a service station, a castle, a beach and back home again.
The York Press said "As ever, Readman has assembled a terrific cast, Jeanette Hunter's kindly Mrs Kay battling with Craig Kirby's grouchy, oppressive Mr Briggs, backed up by Martyn Hunter's seen-it-all-before bus driver and Adam Sowter and Katie Glover's young teachers. Emily Belcher excels as the quiet loner, Amy; Kiera Leaper's flirtatious Carly is a hoot, and Emma Moodie and Ruby Johnson's Bored Girls steal the show as always. Barbara Chan's musical direction is a joy too."
For Craig Kirby (who was the Narrator in Pick Me Up's Into The Woods and Hospital Ghost/Lionel Furgeson in Ghost The Musical) it was a welcome return to a role he first played at the age of 15 when he played Mr Briggs in a youth theatre production in Newport 30 years ago.
Emily Belcher (who appeared in Pick Me Up's Into The Woods and as Tinker Bell in Peter Pan The Musical) told the York Press: "I love performing in this play; it's really funny and it's fun to play because you're performing with all your friends and it's such a funny and clever script."
Willy Russell, the multi award-winning author of Educating Rita and Blood Brothers, loves it too – he says staging Our Day Out The Musical was "one of the very very best theatrical experiences of my life – I can’t wait to do it again”.
February 20-28 2015
Music and lyrics by
Willy Russell and Bob Eaton
Musical arrangements by
Adam Moore Tech 247