The world premiere of John Byrne’s new musical play, Underwood Lane is being staged in Johnstone Town Hall.
Written by the celebrated Paisley-born artist, writer and playwright, John Byrne, the play is set in his home town and was written in memory of Byrne’s lifelong friend and fellow Paisley Buddie, singer-songwriter, Gerry Rafferty.
Underwood Lane is produced by the Tron Theatre in association with OneRen – the local charitable trust providing cultural, leisure and sporting opportunities to help people enjoy active and healthy lives – and supported by Renfrewshire Council’s Future Paisley programme.
And the local links continue with two of the actors in the production coming from Paisley. Both are experienced theatre and TV actors with Martin Quinn playing the part of Gill and Dani Heron as Maureen in the show.
Photo: Underwood Lane show poster – illustration by John Byrne
The show, directed by Andy Arnold, was originally to be staged two years ago, but Covid caused its postponement. Following the performances at Johnstone Town Hall, the show moves to the Tron Theatre, in Glasgow for a run between 14th and 30th July 2022.
Andy Arnold says of the production: “When we realised that Underwood Lane would have to be postponed from 2020 to 2021, John Byrne said to me ‘I’ve waited 16 years to get this show on, I can wait another year!’
“Well, as we now know, we have had to wait not one but two years – John and I, as well as all the cast and creative team, are champing at the bit to stage this brilliant piece of musical theatre.”
Photo: Dani Heron
Photo: Martin Quinn
Rikki Payne, OneRen’s Arts Manager said: “They say that all good things come to those who wait and now that Underwood Lane is finally being premiered in Renfrewshire, it’s more than good – it’s brilliant!
“It’s fitting that one of Paisley’s favourite sons, John Byrne, has his latest musical play – set in his home town and inspired by another famous Buddie, Gerry Rafferty –premiered on stage in Renfrewshire.”
Victoria Hollows, chief executive of OneRen said: “Paisley and Renfrewshire are known for their rich cultural heritage, and there is no doubt that this new piece of musical theatre is a wonderful addition.
“We are thrilled to be hosting the world premiere of John Byrne’s Underwood Lane, made all the more special with two of the cast having local connections to Paisley. It’s definitely been worth the wait, and we are looking forward to welcoming audiences to share in the experience.”
The play, set in 50s Paisley, is about fierce rivalry in life, love and the music business. Underwood Lane’s Dessie (Marc McMillan) and Darkwood Crescent’s Joey (Scott Fletcher) get a skiffle band together for an impromptu gig – uniting a group of young people whose paths might not ordinarily have crossed and whose lives are irreversibly changed by the catalogue of events that unfold.
Ten actor-musicians drive forward the story through timeless late 50s/early 60s songs, under the musical direction of Hilary Brooks (Sunshine on Leith and Glasgow Girls).
Tron Theatre’s Executive Director Sam Gough acknowledges the support of OneRen: “We were delighted to be approached by OneRen to partner with them on creating this wonderfully ambitious, previously unstaged production from John Byrne. We are even more thankful that now, two years later, we are still able to celebrate John and the town of Paisley. Without OneRen’s continued support this production would not be possible.”
With set design by Becky Minto and costumes designed by John himself, Underwood Lane promises to be a stylish, pacy and darkly funny production with all the hallmarks of John’s other iconic work for the stage and very special production for all lovers of Scottish theatre.
Tickets are now on sale for the shows, which run from Thursday, 7th to 9th July 2022 and can be booked online at www.oneren.org/whats-on.