He has been Scotland’s favourite comic-strip scamp for more than 80 years – and now he is set to get his own musical.
A production dedicated to the adventures of Oor Wullie will tour the country after being launched in his home city of Dundee in November before heading out on tour for several months.
Wullie’s long-time pals Fat Boab, Soapy Soutar and Wee Eck are expected to feature alongside his famous adversary, PC Murdoch, in the production.
Aimed at both fans of Oor Wullie and younger audiences unfamiliar with the character, the show will feature a clutch of brand new songs and be set against the backdrop of modern-day Dundee and Scotland.
Dundee Rep is creating the show as part of its 80th anniversary celebrations with London-based theatre production company Selladoor and Scottish writers and composers Claire McKenzie and Scott Gilmour.
The exploits of Our Willie and The Broons have been appeared in every edition of the Sunday Post newspaper since 1936. It has billed the production as the West End meets Auchenshoogle, the fictional town where the two cartoon strips are set.
Oor Wullie was voted “Scotland’s favourite son” in 2004, ahead of Robert Burns, William Wallace and Sir Sean Connery.
When Wullie was celebrating his 80th birthday three years ago he inspired a mass participation art event which saw dozens of colourful sculptures fill the streets of Dundee. The character also featured on First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s Christmas card and was used by the National Library of Scotland to help children learn the Scots language.
The new show, which was announced by publishers DC Thomson today, is expected to be set in modern-day Dundee, where Oor Wullie and his ever-present bucket are immortalised with a bronze sculpture outside the McManus Galleries.
The Oor Wullie musical, which is expected to visit Glasgow, Edinburgh, Ayr, Stirling and Inverness, is being planned three years after the characters of The Broons were brought to the stage.
Andrew Panton, artistic director at Dundee Rep, said: “It’s a real responsibility taking a character everyone loves and a story everyone loves and bringing them to life.
“But it’s an exciting one – and I for one am looking forward to the show. It’s certainly going to be one people won’t forget.
“We want to bring Oor Wullie onto the stage for his fans, but we’re also aiming to open up Oor Wullie to a new generation that perhaps don’t know about him.
“I think we have to tell the story of a traditional character, but in a contemporary Scotland and a contemporary Dundee. It’s quite a job to do, but we’re working on it.
“I can’t reveal too much at the moment, but there will be all the usual characters you would expect to meet, definitely an adventure and Our Wullie will have a problem to solve.
“But there will maybe be a new friend to help. There will certainly be aspects the audience wouldn’t necessarily expect.”
Although the lead role is yet to be cast, it is expected to played by a young adult rather than a child actor, while members of Dundee’s award-winning ensemble company will also be starring in the production.
Mr Panton added: “We did consider the possibility of a child filling the role, but we’re looking at a performance run of a few months including a Scottish tour, and it would just be too much.”
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