Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland author's pride as Paperboy goes from page to stage

By Gerald Lennon

Author Tony Macaulay has admitted he will feel emotional when his memoir of life as a Belfast Telegraph paperboy in the 1970s takes to the stage.

His internationally-acclaimed book Paperboy is being produced and adapted as a musical by Youth Music Theatre UK (YMT).

The cast - which includes 35 young performers from Ireland, Scotland and England, aged between 11 and 19 - has now been confirmed and rehearsals are under way.

"I expect I will feel quite emotional at times," said Tony (below).

There is a wonderful song about my father, when I first read the lyrics I was moved to tears.

"I'm giving my input around language and the accents, or if these events would have happened in Belfast around that time. They sometimes ask me how we would have danced in the 1970s, and what that might have looked like.

"Yesterday, I took the whole company on a coach tour and we visited the Shankill Road and the newsagent shop, and they bought sweets from the same shop where I was a newsagent at the time."

Seeking to capture the spirit and authenticity of that era are the creative duo of writer-comedian Andrew Doyle and Belfast singer/songwriter Duke Special.

Tony said: "The tone of my books is around me questioning the divisions and the violence at the time, and that comes across very strongly in what that creative duo have written, and I'm delighted with it.

"I think the important thing is, it's not a play about the Troubles, it's a play about young people growing up and making choices in their lives.

"In some ways, it's about peace and reconciliation, which is the era that we are living in now."

The stage show is being directed by Steven Dexter and Dean Johnston, who have been working closely with the cast to develop a real feel from that era.

Dean said: "The charm, the character and vibrancy of the book easily translated to musical theatre.

"It's fantastic and for me, personally, I was a YMT performer 10 years ago.

"I've always been passionate about creating a Northern Irish musical, there aren't many of them, and the ones that already exist are about the Troubles."

Sam Gibson (15), who will be playing the younger version of Tony, said: "There are a lot of lines that I've had to learn.

"It's a privilege to be playing this part, but it's a lot of responsibility, but I'm excited."

Rehearsals started on July 9 and it took three weeks to find the perfect cast to bring Tony's world to life.

The heart-warming, coming-of-age tale will make its debut at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast, running from July 26-29.

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