Who doesn’t know the man affectionately known as The Big Yin, Billy Connelly? Certainly nobody in Scotland, but his reputation as a uniquely skilled comic is universal in the Western world, if that’s not a contradiction in terms! The story of his life growing up in Glasgow and influencing his work is legendary. From working in the Clyde shipyards, moving from a folk singer who talked in between songs to becoming a full time ground breaking stand-up act and film actor of no mean talent across a career of over 50 years, that culminated in his being awarded the BAFTA Fellowship in 2022 for lifetime achievement, makes him a real hero of the people.
And who better to bring this tribute to life than Glasgow writer, performer and three-time Fringe First winner Gary McNair. Gary, who has produced work for and with many of Scotland’s major theatre companies, has turned a collection of stories about Billy into a show that is billed as ‘A Love Letter to the Big Yin From the People of Scotland ’.
Gary McNair said “It’s an honour to be doing this show. To take on a subject and a figure as beloved by the public as Billy, with our National Theatre is a very proud moment indeed and one that I will cherish. It has been a joyous production to be a part of with so many wonderful artists involved in its research and development. I hope we can continue that feeling of joy when we get on the road and share it with audiences up and down the country. There will be a seat for Billy every night and we hope he can come along and see just what he means to the people of Scotland.”
Gary is hitting the road with musicians Simon Liddell and Jill O’Sullivan, collecting more stories from audience members that may become woven into the show as the tour progresses This World Première production was announced last year to mark Billy Connolly’s 80th birthday year and will be directed by renowned theatre director, playwright and performer, Joe Douglas.
Billy Connelly has a place deep in the heart of Scotland but especially in his hame toun of Glesga where this tour culminates and where his coupon already graces three buildings in the form of giant murals. This special show looks like it will add to the accolades in spades. What a wonderful tribute to have during your lifetime to know you are loved and revered by yer ain folk!
Touring dates are as follows:
Palace Theatre, Kilmarnock Tues 16th May
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh Thurs 18th to Sat 20th May
Ayr Gaiety Tues 23rd May
Dundee Rep Wed 24th May
East Kilbride Arts Centre Tues 30th May
Heart of Hawick Fri 2nd June
Theatre Royal Dumfries, Sat 3rd June
Lyth Arts Centre, Tues 6th June & Wed 7th June
Strathpeffer Pavilion, Thurs 8th June
Nairn Community & Arts Centre Fri 9th June
Byre Theatre, St Andrews Sat 10th June
Lanternhouse, Cumbernauld Wed 14th June
Dunoon Burgh Hall, Sat 17th June
Perth Theatre, Tue 20th June
Kings Theatre Glasgow, Thurs 22nd to Sat 24th June.