22 October 2019
Coach & Bus Week

No it’s not 1 April – there is now such a thing as a musical based on bus regulation. And it premiered in Manchester on 28 September.

Known simply as Bus Regulation: The Musical, the half-hour performance was the brainchild of Ellie Harrison, who worked alongside the Better Buses for Greater Manchester campaign and the Association of British Commuters to make it a reality.

The show, which took place at the Manchester Art Gallery, used the soundtrack from Starlight Express, another roller-skating musical written by Andrew Lloyd Webber in the β€˜80s.

Transport campaigner Summer Dean narrated over the performance, portraying Britain’s first female transport secretary, former Labour MP Barbara Castle. She recounted the history of post-war bus ownership in an accessible way, devoid of jargon.

Meanwhile, eight roller skaters in bus company-inspired consumes sped around the stage representing operators – and mimicking company takeovers with quick costume changes.

Ellie, who supports Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham’s franchising plans, told The Guardian ahead of the show: “The aim of the musical is to learn lessons from history.” Explaining how the idea of marrying bus regulation and roller-staking came about, she added: “This is often seen as a boring topic, so let’s jazz it up!”

The show seemed to be well-received, with local transport site East of M60 concluding its review by saying: “If Bus Regulation: The Musical is on elsewhere in Greater Manchester, I suggest you ought to go and see it. A superb half hour’s-worth of entertainment.”