Manchester theatre to stage international premiere of WWII gay love story

The international premiere of a wartime love story with a twist opens in Manchester next month.

Yank! is a musical in the Rodgers and Hammerstein tradition. The only difference is it’s a story about two soldiers who fall in love with each other. Whilst all the characters are fictitious, Yank! draws upon the memoirs of members of the armed forces who took part in World War II and is based on actual events.

It tells the story of Stu, a Mid-Western youngster who is called up to serve in the forces and falls in love with Mitch, a fellow soldier. It portrays a world that thrived just beneath the surface of the US Army in the 1940s.

It explores what it means to be a man, what it is to fall in love and struggle, and how World War II became a great catalyst in bringing gay men and women together.

Scott Hunter (Stu) and Barnaby Hughes (Mitch)

Yank! is a new version of an off-Broadway production from 2010. The book and lyrics were written by American writer David Zellnik, with his brother Joseph Zellnik’s musical score paying homage to the timeless music of the 1940s.

David spent hundreds of hours researching the hidden histories of service personnel, even having letters sent to him from around the country from war veterans or their families.

“It’s a unique story,” says producer Ben Millerman. “The great thing about Manchester is that it’s filled with unique stories. It’s a city that embraces individuality, and that’s why Yank! is so important.”

Yank! is the latest collaboration between London-based theatre production company Aria Entertainment and the award-winning Hope Mill Theatre in Ancoats. They joined forces last year to spearhead the venue as a platform to showcase, revive and bring new musical theatre to the north.

The 120-seat theatre is the brainchild of Joseph Houston and William Whelton and has won many plaudits since opening in December 2015. Its productions of the Tony award-winning musical Parade and cult classic Hair both received rave reviews.  Hair was shortlisted for the 2016 CityLife Awards (Best Theatre Production) whilst Parade has been shortlisted for Best Musical in the 2017 Manchester Theatre Awards to be announced on March 17.

Yank! will run for four weeks from Thursday 9 March to Saturday 8 April. See you there.

Hope Mill Theatre, 113 Pollard Street, Manchester, M4 7JA


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