A brand new musical with a real kick to it

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As soon as the City of Culture programme was unveiled last year one event stood out for local music fans more than any other.

‘Teenage Kicks - A Punk Musical’ promised to bring the full, rebellious pogo dancing glory of The Undertones to the stage in Derry as the culture year neared its climax.

Ben Kerr, Mikey-Jay Heath, Keith Lynch (cast members), Colin Bateman, Alderman Gary Middleton, deputy mayor of Derry.

Ben Kerr, Mikey-Jay Heath, Keith Lynch (cast members), Colin Bateman, Alderman Gary Middleton, deputy mayor of Derry.

But, it seems, all was not as it seemed with the project. While The Undertones most popular song forms a seminal part of the new musical- due to debut on the stage at the Millennium Forum next month - writer Colin Bateman is keen to point out that this is not the story of The Undertones.

The project is in fact the culmination of a lifetime ambition of the Bangor born writer to pay tribute to punk music - the music which he grew up listening to.

“There’s a misconception this is the Undertones musical,” Bateman told the ‘Journal’. “It is not an Undertones musical - it has one track by The Undertones in it.

It is a musical about the music of a generation. the Buzzcocks have two songs in it, the Stranglers have two, Stiff Little Fingers have two - various other bands. There are a lot of punk classics in there but there is that misconception that this is The Undertones story and it is certainly not that - but they were very kind to let us use Teenage Kicks and I hope they approve when they see it, if they see it.”

Bateman maintains he always wanted to tell a punk story.

“It is the music I grew up with and It was such a large part of my life. I started writing novels, crime fiction and things like that and I didn’t really know how to wrote about punk and I wasn’t sure what my story would be.

“So fast forward all those years and I’m still trying to get that story out and it just came to me that maybe a musical might be the way to do that.

“I thought I would mention it to Pearse Moore at the Nerve Centre, who is good friend and who I have worked with him over the years. He thought it was a great idea and that coincided with the City of Culture coming up and everything seemed to fall into place after that.”

But bringing the story to life has been, at times, fraught experience for the writer - who cut his teeth as a writer in the newsroom of his local newspaper.

“There was a bit of a punk attitude to the writing process - the first draft of the script wasn’t completed until a month ago.

“So it was really up against a deadline but I do like to work to deadline - which comes back to working for a local newspaper - when you are expected to work under pressure. No one comes and taps you on the back and says ‘You must be exhausted, here have a week off’ - they should but they don’t, so you just keep going.”

And with a redrafted second act delivered just over a week ago - and curtain up looming - this has been a fast moved and exhilerating process for Bateman.

But he refuses to be nervous about it. “I don’t really get the nerves. I used to be the most nervous person in the world. But once I realised people are there because they like what you do or are genuinely interested, well you get over that very quickly.

“So no I won’t get nervous - I’ll just go with it.”

Teenage Kicks, A Punk Musical runs at The Millennium Forum from Nov 1-9.