Story of a music hall legend comes to Hartlepool

Ed Waugh.
Ed Waugh.

Playwright Ed Waugh has turned his creative sights on another forgotten regional superstar.

And his latest work will tell the story of a man who is said to have links to the Hartlepool Monkey legend.

The Town Hall Theatre.

The Town Hall Theatre.

Former Hartlepool power station worker Ed, who recently enjoyed success with Hadaway Harry, about rowing superstar Harry Clasper, has now come up with a Hartlepool play all about Ned Corvan.

It is called Mr Corvan’s Music Hall, and is a stage play containing the music of Ned Corvan, who lived from 1827 to 1865.

The new production will head to the Town Hall Theatre in Raby Road on Tuesday, June 6.

Ed explained more about the man behind the story. He said Ned was a virtuoso violinist and comedian, and the region’s first music hall superstar.

Sadly, working-class history is not documented, but you can imagine how great his stage presence must have been when you think of him performing to a packed audience in the Dock Hotel in Southgate. In those days there was no amplification either.

Ed Waugh

“He worked with Billy Purvis, who had close links with Hartlepool and is buried in St Hilda’s Churchyard.

“He also performed in Hartlepool and brought a tribute show to Billy to the town during which it is believed he performed his own composition which gave rise to the tale of the Hartlepool Monkey.”

“Sadly, working-class history is not documented, but you can imagine how great his stage presence must have been when you think of him performing to a packed audience in the Dock Hotel in Southgate.

“In those days there was no amplification either.

“Ned was an anti-establishment tribune for the people. He wrote songs and performed benefits in favour of striking shipbuilders and sailors.

“He was hugely popular in the mining communities of Durham and Northumberland, too.”

His first book of songs in 1850 was dedicated to ‘keelmen, colliers and working men in general’. He was a real working-class hero.

“The play, with original music by Ned Corvan, has had the tremendous input of Benny Graham and Johnny Handle (folk superstar), and we have brought to life 20 of Ned’s brilliant songs against a backdrop of a dramatic, funny, but tragic story.”

The show stars Chris Connel (known from Pitman Painters, UK and Broadway), Jamie Brown (Hadaway Harry, and Culture 2016 Performing Artist of the Year) and Rachael McShane (ex-violinist of national folk stars Bellowhead).

It will be directed by Gareth Tudor Price (who has credits in the West End as well as with Hull Truck.)

Mr Corvan’s Music Hall tours the region in May and June, and has support from the Arts Council England.

Tickets for the Hartlepool Town Hall Theatre show cost £15, and are available by calling (0191) 4247788.

For regional dates and more information visit the play’s website.