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 ‘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.”