You’ve loved his adventures for more than 80 years, you can follow his Big Bucket trail across the north-east – now get ready to see Oor Wullie live on stage in Aberdeen.
A musical version of DC Thomson Media’s beloved character has been officially launched, with the creative team promising a fun-filled show packed with songs and laughter as Wullie goes on a quest to find his bucket.
The event, held at Glasgow’s Theatre Royal, included a sneak preview of two songs from the show plus a glimpse of some of the set and character designs, ahead of its arrival at His Majesty’s Theatre from March 2-7 next year.
The show will have its world premiere in a Christmas run at Dundee Rep from November 23, which is producing the musical in association with Selladoor Productions, before touring Scotland.
The writing team behind Oor Wullie’s first stage outing, Scott Gilmour and Claire McKenzie of Noisemaker, said they were thrilled to take on the challenge of bringing one of Scotland’s most beloved and iconic characters to life.
Scott, who is writing the book and lyrics, said: “We were also slightly nervous about how you would do that.
“The biggest hurdle to begin with was taking something which is iconically a comic strip with a character who has endured more than 80 years, but that doesn’t immediately lend itself to spanning a two-act musical.
“So for the two of us, the first part of the process was going up into the loft and getting loads of annuals, having a look through lots of stories to see the ones that resonate enough they could survive being put into a musical format.
“The one that seemed to happen the most over the different years of Oor Wullie is the loss of his bucket.
“So within this particular quest for his bucket, we get to meet all our iconic characters, Fat Boab, Wee Eck, Soapy Soutar, PC Murdoch, Maw, Paw and even the school bully Basher McKenzie.”
In a move to update the gender balance of Auchenshoogle, Basher will be a girl in Oor Wullie’s modern world.
Scott added the show would introduce a new character to Wullie’s circle of friends – but details of who that might be are being kept strictly under wraps.
Composer Claire said Oor Wullie would be packed full of new songs, drawing on many strands of Scottish music.
“We are so excited we get to add songs to his story so we will have lots of music in there with songs inspired by traditional Scottish folk music and also look at what does Scotland sound like today – what is popular music and how do other communities influence the sound of Scotland?
“It is such a gift to work with the Scottish language so we get lots of Scottish-isms in the lyrics and lots of Wullie’s catchphrases. There was loads to play with.”
Scott added they both very much had the Oor Wullie Big Bucket Trail, in aid of children’s hospital charities, including The ARCHIE Foundation, in mind as they were writing the show, which has still to be completed and cast.
“We have worked with The ARCHIE Foundation quite a bit and while the trail isn’t implicit in the show, it was in the back of our head that we wanted to encourage our audience, particularly our younger audience, to go out in search of Wullie’s bucket.
“We do want to encourage people to engage with the trail because it is such a cool thing. At the moment he’s everywhere.”
The pair previewed two numbers from the musical – a Scots melody and jings crivvens-infused ode to Wullie’s lost bucket, called Help Ma Boab and a very musical theatre number called How Do I Fit This Story, to be sung by Wullie’s mystery pal.
Also previewed were some set and character designs, drawn up by Kenneth Macleod.
He said the show would involve animated line drawings and inkwork to reflect Wullie’s Sunday Post comic strip origins that were first published in 1936.
He said: “A lot of the ways we tell the story will be inspired by the ways Wullie keeps himself entertained by things like writing graffiti on the fences, making go-karts and building treehouses. All these ideas will be fed into the designs we will be using to show Wullie’s world.”