The great D.C Thompson/Sunday Post comic strip hero, ‘Oor Wullie’ has been transported onto stage in a brand-new musical produced by Dundee Rep and Selladoor productions. This week (28th Jan – 1st Feb) the production hits Scotland’s capital playing the Edinburgh King’s Theatre.
The story follows Wahid, a young indian boy who is not fitting in at his school because of his race, even though he is Scottish. A librarian sees Wahid is feeling down, so supplies him an ‘Oor Wullie’ annual to try and help him feel better. But all havoc is let loose when Wullie and a few of his friends come out of the annual to find Wullie’s bucket.
Eklovey Kashyap as Wahid supplies us a great geek who is a hero in the making. The audience really show empathy to this character due to understanding how real his conflict is, not only within Scotland but the whole of the UK. Eklovey does well to make this character so accessible by tackling the issue of racism and bullying is such a realistic way within this rather out there production.
Martin Quinn is gloriously outlandish as oor iconic Wullie. He does brilliantly to bring this cheeky chap to life, not missing a beat using fluent slang. The childlike nature he embraces works brilliantly to make the audience feel as though they are watching a child rather than an actor in his twenties. However, the immaturity we see within this young man, is often hilarious. Martin’s vocals and accent are impressive for this musical, especially when it comes to the rather touching moments with his wee mouse Jeemy.
Ann Louise Ross is hilarious as PC Murdoch. Ann smashes the farcical side of this character splendidly, she does well to make it clear this is a female playing a male. The comic timing and presence she gives us is side splitting. Especially during Murdoch’s musical number, where Teacher clearly has a crush on PC Murdoch, the quick witty responses and clear reactions to the audience is just great comic timing from Ann.
George Drennan is the narrator of this piece, he plays Dudley D. Watkins, the real-life illustrator of ‘Oor Wullie’ for DC Thompson. He does well in keeping the audience interested, breaking the fourth wall comfortably and being a humorous character. Irene MacDougall plays Ms. Topper, Wee old Doris, Ma and Teacher. This actress does well to be so dynamic in playing all these characters, with great humor and appropriate adaptability.
Leanne Traynor is terrifyingly horrid as Basher McKenzie. Leanne’s bold take on this character, brilliantly presents us with a very evil bully, who turns our world upside down. This is a very fun portrayal to watch.
Leah Byrne as Primrose, Dan Buckley as Bob, Grant McIntyre as Wee Eck and Bailey Newsome as Soapy Soutar, are fantastic as Wullie’s best friends. The four of them work well together in bringing the bonkers world of the comic strip to life, especially when it comes to radiating the mental Scottish antics into the brand-new music featured within this piece. All of them bring their own energy to the characters and superbly add to this production.
Andrew Panton’s direction for this new musical is magically colourful. Andrew does not hold back in bringing the bonkers shenanigans of Auchtenshoogle to life for the audience. He does so by developing a quick pace, with apt humor and lighthearted scenes with the much-loved characters. Noisemaker write the book, music and lyrics for this contemporary extravaganza. The music in this piece is brilliant with the help of musical director Gavin Whitworth, it mixes cultures, it mixes styles and above all, it really entertains. Each piece of music in this production is original and doesn’t sound generic, it brings the story brilliantly to life with so much energy. The one flaw with this musical is that bringing ‘Oor Wullie’ into our world seemed to restrict the script, it wasn’t as adventurous as the second act of this musical, and at points it felt as if there was not a clear objective for where the story was going to go. However apart from this, the creative team did very well to adapt this comic book to stage in such a creative way. They of course had help from Kenneth Macleod with his brilliant costume and set design, which really did feed the audiences imagination, with exact costumes from the comic and a obscure colourful set design. Which is lifted by Katharine William’s great lighting design and Maciej Kopka’s fun sound design.
This musical is fun for all the family and is exactly the kind of fun musical that Scotland is needing, which brilliantly brings a national treasure to life in such an ingenious way, with catchy music and a great energetic cast, who have clearly dived into this opportunity ready for audiences to love their portrayals.
Get tickets for ‘Oor Wullie The Musical’ at Edinburgh King’s Theatre now!
Written by Lewis C. Baird