Meet: Jenny Sealey, director of Reasons to be Cheerful, at West Yorkshire Playhouse this week

Posted on October 9, 2017



Photo by Oliver Cross.

Graeae Theatre Company’s Reasons to be Cheerful will be at West Yorkshire Playhouse’s Quarry Theatre from Tuesday 10th October – Saturday 14 October 2017. It has captioned dialogue and BSL interpreted songs. Find out how to book tickets by clicking here. Here we interview director Jenny Sealey.

Reasons to be Cheerful has been around for a few years now. Why is it so popular?

It’s a show that has something for everyone, and you don’t have to be a fan of Ian Dury and the Blockheads to enjoy it; it’s for anyone who’s ever fallen in love, been part of a family, been a teenager or nicked their parents’ car, and it’s a beautiful hybrid between musical theatre, a play and gig. And of course, in true Graeae style, we integrate our beautiful aesthetics of access with creative British Sign Language, audio description and captioning (in the style of a 1979 slideshow) at all performances.

What have you enjoyed most about working on it?

I always love working on this show, and directing it has been one of the highlights of my career. For this 2017 production, it’s a been a joy to not only work with many of the original members of the cast, but also welcome new members of the Reasons family, some new to Graeae as well. The Dury family have also been hugely supportive and generous, as well as Blockheads Chaz Jankel and Derek Hussey who have written a brand new song for us – If It Can’t Be Right Then It Must Be Wrong – a rallying cry against the brutal cuts that Deaf and disabled people have faced in recent years.

How are the audiences responding?

Audiences are loving it, responding with laughter, tears, dancing and cheering and coming back with their friends and family. We’ve had audience members who’ve seen the show on previous tours, audiences who are new to the show, and of course the old punk rockers and Ian Dury/Blockheads fans who want to relive their youth! Seeing the audience reaction to If It Can’t Be Right Then It Must Be Wrong has been incredible too, it’s really striking a chord with people.

Do you see the musical differently now compared to when it was first produced?

This show is more relevant than ever, highlighting the brutal cuts D/deaf and disabled people have faced at the hands of this government in recent years. Not only do we have new cast members, but we’ve also got a new design from Liz Ascroft who has given the production a facelift for 2017, Paul Sirett has made some tweaks (including a new ending) to his brilliant script and we’ve got some fab new musical arrangements. But ultimately, the soul of the show has firmly remained from when we first did it in 2010.

What’s next for you and Graeae?

We’ve got some hugely exciting projects lined up for next year, which I can’t say too much about yet, but keep an eye on our website and all will be revealed soon. We’re also launching a new book in the spring about the first 37 years of Graeae; come to see the show at Stratford East and you’ll find out more!

Reasons to be Cheerful will be at West Yorkshire Playhouse’s Quarry Theatre from Tuesday 10th October – Saturday 14 October 2017. Find out how to book tickets by clicking here.

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Posted in: interviews