“New York has their haircuts, London has the trousers, but Belfast has the reason!”
The Lyric Theatre is thrilled to begin the rehearsals of the stage version of Good Vibrations as part of its 50th anniversary programme and to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Good Vibrations, the story of influential music promoter, producer and legendary founder of the record label – the undisputed Godfather of Belfast Punk, Terri Hooley.
Good Vibrations tells the story of Terri Hooley, a radical, rebel and music-lover in 1970s Belfast when the conflict shuts down his city. Galvanising the young musicians into action, he becomes the unlikely leader of a motley band of kids and punks who join him in his mission to create a new community, an alternative Ulster, to bring his city back to life. The show takes us from the heights of working with bands such as Rudi (with the biggest single to come out of Belfast, ‘Big Time’), the Outcasts, The Undertones, to volatile encounters with the mainstream music industry, all the while showing Terri’s tireless commitment to local bands and music. ‘Teenage Kicks’ was the first record in the history of BBC radio to be played twice in a row and it would remain John Peel’s all-time favourite – a legacy that it is now Belfast’s ‘National Anthem.’ Good Vibrations underlines the communal spirit of these bands that gather up behind the record shop owner who won’t say no. It celebrates energy, ideas, optimism, self-worth, and the empowerment of punk rock.
Good Vibrations will be directed by Belfast’s Des Kennedy, who has directed in Belfast, Dublin and was the International Associate Director of the Tony Award Winning ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ on both the Broadway and Australian productions. Des’s directing credits include ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ and ‘White Star of the North’ at the Lyric and Associate Director of ‘Once: The Musical’. He commented:
“We’re so excited to be making a stage version of the brilliant film Good Vibrations at the Lyric as part of their 50th anniversary celebrations and we’re delighted to be telling Terri’s story in this way. We’re going to have lots of live music and the show will feel like cross between a gig and a biography of an actual revolutionary. There’s no better time to be telling this story: poverty in Northern Ireland is endemic, there are no opportunities for young people, and the people in power are more than happy for us to be divided and stick to our ‘side’ rather than come together to address these issues. Punk was young peoples’ way of saying “that’s not good enough! I’m not going to accept the society you are offering me so I am going to rip my clothes, paint my jacket and desecrate your National Anthems”. Terri harnessed this energy, showed there was an alternative way of living, and showed the value of bringing people together through music. These ideas were radical at the time and are as important now as they ever were.”
The extraordinary cast and creative team, produced by the Lyric Theatre, are all Northern Irish and each have a strong track record on the West End. Terri Hooley is played by Aaron McCusker (‘Shameless’, ‘Dexter’, ‘Fortitude’, ‘Backdraft II’, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’), Terri’s wife Ruth by Niamh Perry (having reached the finalists of Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s BBC ‘I’d Do Anything’ series, went on to play leads in ‘Once’, T’he Beautiful Game’, ‘Love Never Dies’) and Sean Kearns as Terri’s father (Sting’s ‘The Last Ship’, ‘The Commitments’, ‘Billy Elliot’). Meanwhile Newry born musical director Michael Bradley has worked on ‘The Lion King’ and ‘The Bodyguard’.
Executive Producer of the Lyric, Jimmy Fay, commented:
“The legend of Terri Hooley and his shop Good Vibrations is one of the great folk-tales of Belfast. How the sheer raw energy of soul / punk / do-it-yourself music can transform your current reality and bring all that’s mighty and great about your imagination and spirit into your everyday existence. Belfast has always had this independence of spirit, this challenge to conformity and celebration of dark humour. Good Vibrations was an iconic record shop, a superb movie and it’s a tale that still needs to be told. It belongs on the stage in all its rip-roaring rage and fury and anarchic humour. We at the Lyric are delighted to present this on our stage bringing it all back home to Belfast.”
It has been adapted for the stage by the team who co-wrote the Good Vibrations biopic – Colin Carberry and Glenn Patterson – for which the pair were nominated for Outstanding Debut at the 2014 BAFTA Film awards. They had previously won Best Script at the 2013 Irish Writers Guild Awards, Best Script at the 2012 British Film Festival and they were nominated for Best First Script of 2013 by the Writers Guild of Great Britain.
Terri Hooley commented:
“I’m thrilled that a Belfast team of writers, directors and producers will be bringing Good Vibrations to new audiences at the Lyric. I’m very proud that we opened up nightlife in Belfast when the city centre was a no-go area for many people. It didn’t matter if you had green hair or orange hair, it mattered if you were a punk. They were my heroes.”