The legendary comic hero gets his own show as Oor Wullie: The Musical opens at Eden Court this week bringing a story updated in subtle ways but with 'abody's Wullie and all his pals from Auchenshoogle here for the fun
Martin Quinn plays the spiky-haired scallywag Oor Wullie bringing the world of Auchenshoogle with him plus all of the pranks and the mischief. So what is it like for a young actor to be given the challenge of bringing this larger-than-life character off the page and onto the stage, Kyle Walker asked ...
Q So talk me through the story of Oor Wullie: The Musical – what adventures is the dungaree-wearing, bucket-toting rascal getting up to when he hits Eden Court?
A Well our story actually begins in the real world with our main man Wahid – he gets picked on at school and seeking refuge in the school library gets handed an Oor Wullie annual. When he gets home Wullie pops out of the book and takes Wahid on an adventure in search of his missing bucket. Along the way they find some other characters from Auchenshoogle and run into plenty of trouble!
Q Tell me a bit about yourself, Martin – what first got you interested in acting and performing? Did you have a specific moment where you realised that this was the life for you?
A Well I joined PACE Youth Theatre [in Paisley] at an early age but probably got hooked when I was about 10. I remember having to introduce a show and everyone forgetting their lines so I had to improvise my way out it! I got such a rush of adrenaline, with a bit of a crash when I got home! One summer my uncle told me I had better audition for a Scottish Youth Theatre Summer Course if I really wanted to make a go of it. After I did that, SYT kept me in work during a year out after school in which I deferred entry to uni and tried for drama school. Being on SYT’s radar got me seen for my first professional acting job with the National Theatre of Scotland called Let The Right One In. And off the back of that I got an agent but was so nervous when auditioning for other projects that I thought I had better get to a drama school quick and try to work on my craft a bit.
Who were your inspirations?
A lot of the actors I aspired to be like had gone down the drama school route and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. But two weeks into starting at drama school Guildhall I got a phone call asking if I would go with Let The Right One In to New York. Having only recently secured all of my funding for the training this left me in a bit of pickle and so I decided to write to some of the actors who inspired me most ie Alan Rickman, Richard Wilson (both of whom very kindly helped sponsor me during my first term) and Ben Whishaw (who I just think is fantastic!). All advised that drama school was a wise route for a long term career and would offer me some essential self discovery before stepping out into the big bad world.
Q How do you and the production translate the feelgood, mischievous and slightly anarchic tone of the Sunday Post strips onto the stage?
A Well turning the whole piece on its head with Wullie literally jumping out of a book and into the “real world” is very much in the spirit of our unpredictable cheeky chappie, I’d say! Making him sing pushes the boundaries yet again. I hope Dudley Watkins [Oor Wullie’s creator] would be proud!
Q One last question – you’re here in Inverness for six days and eight performances. What is it about Oor Wullie: The Musical that makes it a show people here should go to experience?
A Well the show makes me so proud to be from Scotland and I’m not alone in feeling that. But you should come and see for yourself. A lot of East coast patter in this one, and if Wullie has gone down well with folk, who knows maybe they should make a Nessie musical next!
The show is at Eden Court from tonight (Monday, February 10 to Saturday, February 15. There are matinees at 2.30pm on Wednesday and Saturday. Ticket info: https://eden-court.co.uk/event/oor-wullie#dates-and-times