Steel and Iron: a new musical coming soon

Published: 25 January 2019
Reporter: Peter Lathan

Victoria Gibson Credit: Jennie Scott
Helen and Joe Hammill (Cattle and Cane)
Alistair Griffin

“What happens to a place that is defined by its heritage and industry when those are taken away from it?”

That’s the question asked by Steel and Iron, a new musical focused on the history of Middlesbrough which is being developed by Teesside-based company Twenty Seven Productions. It’s being written by producer Katie Gibson, one of the company’s founders, and Middlesbrough-born playwright Ishy Din. There will be music by brother and sister duo Helen and Joe Hammill, who work under the name of Cattle and Cane, and singer / songwriter Alistair Griffin, all three of them from Middlesbrough.

“Our story begins with the birth of a town, Middlesbrough, a small hamlet on the banks of the Tees,” says Din. “The industrial revolution is in full flow and coal is the fuel that’s powering it. The Tees at Middlesbrough is deep and a dock is developed for the ships to be loaded with coal from the surrounding mines to shipped to the factories and mills up and down the country.

“But there's another element that’s going to turn Middlesbrough into a boomtown akin to the Gold Rush towns of America and Australia: iron.

“With immigrants flooding to the town to find work and sustenance, the town’s fortunes are on the up, described by Gladstone as an, ‘Infant Hercules’; there is no stopping it, but, alas, a pattern begins to emerge that will follow Middlesbrough until this day: Boom and Bust.”

“But it isn’t just about the town,” adds Gibson. “It is about the people and families who first lived in Middlesbrough, forging a new way of life and hoping for the ‘Boom’ to last.”

Although the production will not be ready for some time, Gibson and her team are keen to tell the region that something is coming, so at 7:30 on 1 March, Steel and Iron will visit ARC Stockton for a ‘sneak peek’ style showing.

This will be for a mainly invited audience, but tickets can be won nearer the time via social media and local radio stations.

Previous productions from the company include site-specific shows such as Hitler’s Headquarters in The Victoria Tunnel, Newcastle, WYTCH and Don’t Go Outside, both in the Castle Keep in Newcastle.