The history of the railways
Stuart Brayson, has been signed up to write the musical, marking the bicentenary of the Stockton & Darlington Railway, in 2025.
Stuart, who hails from Gateshead, has written nearly 30 musicals, including a collaboration with Sir Tim Rice on From Here To Eternity, which is Broadway-bound after being successful in the West End.
Now, he has been commissioned by Darlington Building Society – one of the key sponsors of the bicentenary celebrations – and Darlington Borough Council to compose a musical to celebrate the rich railway heritage of his home region.
Stuart said: “I’m passionate about the North-East because it’s where I’m from, and I’m really excited by the opportunity to write a musical about such an important milestone in the region’s industrial history.
“The North-East gave the world the railways and it’s a great story that deserves to be celebrated. Having visited the town a few times recently to discuss the project with Darlington Building Society, Darlington Borough Council, and Darlington Operatic Society, my head’s buzzing with ideas and I can’t wait to get started.”
Stuart will be working with North-East journalist and author Peter Barron on a storyline and ideas for the musical, which is being supported by Darlington Operatic Society, and is scheduled to be premiered at the 2025 celebrations.
Darly the musical
Peter, the longest-serving former editor of The Northern Echo, was commissioned by Darlington Building Society six years ago to write a children’s book, called Darly’s Magical History Ride, about a magical train that goes back in time through enchanted tunnels.
Darly is a character created by the building society to encourage children to get into the savings habit through their own junior accounts. The time-travelling musical will be based on the book, and the further adventures of Darly.
Peter said: “Stuart has quite a track record and it’s an unbelievable opportunity to work with – and learn from – someone of his calibre.”
Darlington Building Society chief executive Andrew Craddock said: “It was a privilege to meet up with Stuart, Peter and our partners from Darlington Borough Council and Darlington Operatic Society to collaborate on a project to commemorate this momentous anniversary with a brand new musical production.
“This is an exciting and innovative project that will showcase local talent and bring to life some of the amazing stories that shaped the development of the railway in Darlington. I’m really looking forward to seeing this project develop over the next couple of years, and proud that Darlington Building Society can play a pivotal role in helping to celebrate the rich heritage of the town.”
Darlington Borough Council’s Head of Heritage and Culture, Mike Crawshaw, added: “The bicentenary of the first passenger railway is a massive opportunity to celebrate Darlington’s heritage and ingenuity internationally.
“We’ve invested in a world-class programme of events, along with a host of transformational developments, that will attract people from around the world. It’s thrilling to have a West End composer, such as Stuart Brayson, working on a musical to add to the mix.”