THE BROMSGROVE writer of the book for the ‘Brummie musical’ Wallop Mrs Cox has written COVID-19 isolation blog from the point of view of the piece’s main character.
Wallop Mrs Cox, penned by Euan Rose in 1998, told the story of a Bull Ring market trader family as seen through the eyes of its tough Brummie matriarch, Emily Cox (nee Partridge).
Emily was born in Summer Row at the end of the First World War and was the only surviving child of seven siblings – all of the others died in outbreaks of various diseases. She married a young greengrocer Lenny Cox and together they sired a dynasty of 13 children.
The story, a tale of resilience against all odds over many decades, was spoken directly by Emily to the audience in a series of monologues. Lenny is sadly killed-in-action in the Second World War somewhere in the desert, leaving Emily to run the business and bring up the family on her own.
Her first-born son Lenny Junior also loses his life in the 1974 Birmingham Pub bombings.
Featuring memorable songs written by local songwriter Laurie Hornsby, Wallop Mrs. Cox started at the Crescent Theatre where presenter and historian Carl Chin played ‘the narrator.’
There followed two sell out runs at the Birmingham Rep featuring BBC Hereford and Worcester’s Malcolm Boyden as the third generation and grandson Lenny and then a few years later in 2010 a new version ran at the Birmingham Hippodrome featuring Ed James of Heart FM.
Euan Rose directed the original production at the Crescent with multi award-winning director John Adams taking up the mantle for the REP and the Hippodrome. The musical director and arranger was Alan Warner. Many of the members of the huge casts have gone on to enjoy very successful careers in theatre.
Every performance from the first at the Crescent to the last at the Hippodrome sold out and always received long standing ovations from proud Brummies – The Times in its five-star review said ‘…London has ‘Me and My Girl’ Liverpool has ‘Blood Brothers’ and now Birmingham has ‘Wallop Mrs Cox…’ Never before had Birmingham received so much attention and ironically it even featured Emily having a run in with the Peaky Blinders – 15 years before they became a worldwide gangster phenomenon.
‘Wallop’ continued to be the most talked about Birmingham show over the last two decades – though it was never performed in its entirety since the Hippodrome. A concert version of it was used to open the newly-refurbished Birmingham Town Hall.
Euan wrote the story to be so relevant that Emily’s final speech is always made on the day she dies. With the challenge of Coronavirus facing us, he wondered how Emily would deal with the isolation, so has started a series of ‘blogs’ from the 101-year-old from her home in Bromsgrove where the Cox family have moved her a few years earlier.
Point blank refusing to go in a home, the centenarian shares her views on her isolation.
Click here for the first instalment.