The Paisley-born actor talks playing the beloved Scottish character and Dundee Rep's fresh take on a familiar face
Whether it be from reading the comics or from the statues scattered around the country this year, there are few Scots who aren't familiar with Oor Wullie. Dundee Rep are taking a new adaptation of the classic comic on tour. Oor Wullie the Musical has been touring Scotland from November, starting in Dundee and finishing off in Greenock in March.
Paisley-born Martin Quinn, who will be playing Wullie, sees the production as a fresh take on a familiar face. 'The musical does take it in a new direction but I feel if Wullie was ever going to be put on stage, this is the way to do it,' he says. 'All the classic characters make appearances and add to the well-loved protagonist's journey in a really clever way. So in that sense the piece has remained loyal and true to its source whilst taking on a life of its own.'
This new interpretation not only brings in new ideas, but new characters too. 'I can tell you that we have a new character in the show that audiences won't have seen before. It's exciting to witness their first meeting, and it is through them that the adventure begins.'
credit: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan
Writers Scott Gilmour and Claire McKenzie are brave to take on something so close to the heart of Scottish heritage, and Quinn has taken on the responsibility of this character in his stride. 'Someone said to me that it must be a real honour to play a part that has meant so much to so many Scottish families – and I hadn't really thought of it like that before but I suppose it is. I was just excited because he's such a fun wee guy to play. No one's heard his voice before or seen him move around so I can interpret him how I like. I just hope it's an interpretation that does the character justice! He's so well known that I wouldn't want to disappoint those who have been reading him for years.'
After 80 years of comic strips, it's inevitable that everyone has a unique sense of enjoyment from Oor Wullie, whether it be for his comedy, his cheek or his charm. 'I liked his slingshot', Quinn says, 'a skill which I could never master in real life, and I could relate to his awkwardness around girls. I just read one today where he goes all red because Primrose kisses him on the cheek and it brought it all back to me – what it is to be a wee kid with no idea. But apart from that he's quite a cocky wee guy, to his teachers, and in fact to all of his superiors, and I used to wish I could be like that. But I was a bit of a scaredy cat if I'm honest.'
But the question remains, will this decade old character stand the test of time and reach out to everyone? Quinn is optimistic; 'I think it's a show for everyone, and I'm not just saying that to get bums on seats. I think it's great fun for wee ones, the music's catchy and it's clever in ways that grown-ups who know the comic strip can really appreciate. And it makes me laugh so hopefully I won't be alone in that. Like Wullie, the piece doesn't take itself too seriously, so it's sure to be a good night at the theatre.'
Join Wullie, Boab, Soapy Soutar, Wee Eck, and the rest of the Sunday Post gang, in a brand new musical adventure celebrating their 80th anniversary as Scotland’s most beloved comic strip. The highly-anticipated world premiere stage show opens this November, in partnership with internationally acclaimed Selladoor…