Musical madness of Madness musical

Graeme High pupils have been going mad in their school show 'Our House'
Graeme High pupils have been going mad in their school show 'Our House'

A high school’s new musical production is enjoying major ‘Suggs-cess’ thanks to the nutty sounds of Madness.

Graeme High School staff and pupils have spent the last five months rehearsing the music, the moves and the mayhem associated with Madness musical ‘Our House’, which enjoyed its London stage debut in 2002, won a Laurence Oliver Award for Best New Musical in 2003 and, best of all, includes a load of catchy hits by the band.

Described as a “less pretentious” ‘We Will Rock You’, ‘Our House’ did for Madness songs what Ben Elton’s musical did for Queen classics and brought Suggs and the lads back into the frame, allowing them to record the amazing Camden Town concept album ‘The Liberty of Norton Folgate’.

The Graeme High production has been true to the original, featuring a massive cast of pupils ranging from first year to sixth year, with 14 musicians providing live backing.

The curtain went up on the production on Monday and it proved to be a hit with the opening night audience.

“It went well,” said teacher Adrienne Galletly, ‘Our House’ director. “It was well received by the audience so we used that to build upon for the rest of the shows.”

The run came to an end with an amazing last night on Wednesday when everything clicked - the plot, the music and that mad Madness magic.

Adrienne said: “It was an award-winning musical in the West End originally and has a kind of ‘Sliding Doors’ plot that shows what the consequences are when one person makes two very different decisions.

“The main character Joe commits a reckless act on his 16th birthday and the story then splits into two as ‘Good Joe’, who gives himself up to police, and ‘Bad Joe’, who runs away, go on to lead very different lives.”

Good Joe is sent to the pokey for a couple of years and finds life hard on his release and struggles to make ends meet. Bad Joe, meanwhile, prospers and builds a successful career.

The story then moves into “Eastenders” overdrive with twists and turns and, of course, the eventual come uppence of Bad Joe - well Madness wouldn’t have anything to do with a downbeat ending.

Even if the crowd failed to engage with Joe’s emotional journey - they were still able to enjoy a right knees up thanks to that must beloved of British musical institutions - a well crafted Madness song.

Adrienne said: “There are Madness hits all through the show with live bands playing all the songs. Hits like ‘It Must Be Love’, ‘Embarrassment’ and, of course, ‘Our House’ all tie in with the plot and have relevance to what is happening to the characters.”

Other songs given new life by the energy and enthusiasm of the school bands included ‘Wings of a Dove’, ‘House of Fun’, ‘Baggy Trousers’, ‘Driving in My Car’, ‘My Girl’ and ‘One Better Day’.

Playing Joe, both good and bad versions, was sixth year pupil Ross Menzies, making the most of his first ever lead role.

“Ross has been in almost every school production, so it’s great he’s playing the lead role at last,” said Adrienne.