Sunderland blitz recreated in musical

Air raid damage - Binns  April 1941  old ref number 8-934
Air raid damage - Binns April 1941 old ref number 8-934
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THE Blitz on Wearside is being recreated for the stage with the help of an international opera star.

Professor Graeme Danby, principal bass with the English National Opera and a professor of music at the University of Sunderland, is working with his students to stage their own version of Lionel Bart’s musical Blitz.

Graeme Danby

Graeme Danby

However, instead of the London backdrop of the original 1962 West End show, the city production will be set in wartime Sunderland.

Graeme said: “Sunderland was the seventh most bombed place in Britain during the Blitz, so we wanted to set it here.

“We have some fantastic photographs which show the extent of the bombing and even some video footage of firemen trying to put out house fires, which will feature in the production.

“There are some wonderful songs in the musical. We have altered the script only slightly to include Sunderland landmarks.”

This production by the university’s Live Music Theatre will feature the archive footage to support the stage action, light up the theatre and bring the 1940s feel straight back to the city’s people.

During the Second World War the North East, and particularly Sunderland, was heavily bombed due to the strong shipbuilding and mining industries, which were vital to the war effort.

More than 7,000 people died in bombings from 1941 onwards.

Graeme said Blitz promises something for everyone of all ages and will be a professional show.

He said: “We have some incredibly talented singers, dancers and actors at the university and they are hugely committed to it.

“The students are putting in such a lot of hard work and they are also enjoying doing the research into the Blitz in Sunderland.”

Graeme said staff and students are scouring around for 1940s outfits and props and would love to hear from anyone who could help them out with this. They are particularly in need of 1940s suitcases and an old fruit barrow.

Blitz will be performed at Washington Arts Centre on Thursday, April 18, and Sunderland Minster on Saturday, April 20. On Monday, April 22, and Tuesday, April 23, there will be matinee and evening performances at the Customs House, South Shields.

Anyone who can donate or lend some props for the show should contact Dianne Chaganis on 515 2538 or email