A poignant love story based on the true, hidden history of gay soldiers during World War Two, YANK! focuses on the life of Stu, who is called up to serve in the forces in 1943 and becomes a reporter for Yank Magazine, the journal ‘for and by the servicemen’. Telling the stories of the men in Charlie Company, the musical explores what it means to be a man, and what it is to fall in love and struggle to survive in a time and place where the odds are stacked against you.
Scott Hunter reprises his role as Stu. Scott recently answered a few questions about himself and Yank!
Q: You are in the cast of Yank! What attracted you to be a part of the musical?
Scott: The book was the first thing. The story is something I wish I’d been exposed to when I was younger and it’s so expertly written that the dialogue just rolls off your tongue. I also used one of the songs for my college auditions 5 years before I knew what Yank was so maybe it was a nostalgic pull to want to do it.
Q: You play the part of Stu – what can you tell us about him and how he fits into the storyline?
Scott: The Musical actually follows Stu’s journey through the Second World War and how by enrolling in the army and eventually being employed by Yank, a weekly magazine published by the U.S army, he moves from being extremely shy and anxious to an incredibly strong and brave person. He faces events we may struggle to comprehend due to the setting but Stu feels and experiences emotions and thoughts that are so recognisable to us as humans.
Q: What is at the heart of Yank!?
Scott: This is a hard one to answer because Yank covers many grounds purely due to the fact it’s set in the Second World War where people faced so many things at once. There’s the question of masculinity; how people dealt with trying to adhere to certain societal creations during a time in history where everything had started to shift and change. Its core for me though is love and what it can overcome. Now more than ever that message is something that is needed and something that must be communicated. Specifically, this story is about two men who fall in love in surroundings where to do so can have tragic consequences. That is the plot, the story, and is an important part of history which needs to be shown. The heart, however, is about the bravery and grace that comes with loving freely and acting through love.
Q: You have been in the cast of Yank! which premiered at the Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester receiving “extensive critical acclaim”. Can you tell us about the run at Hope Mill?
Scott: It was a rare and unique process as all of us were originating these roles in the U.K and Europe. The creative team too were creating a show from scratch so it gave us a lot of freedom which you don’t always get to experience. As for the Hope Mill Theatre… it’s an amazing space, full of character and style and the Manchester audiences were so supportive and genuinely moved by the story. To have that reaction was beyond words.
Q: 27th July 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the passing of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act. How significant is this to the cast and creatives in the production?
Scott: I suppose there is an added poignancy with this anniversary happening during our run which we are all aware of. That being said, the work isn’t done and this story is relevant today with what is happening in Chechnya, the middle- east and even Orlando in 2016. Whenever people are forbidden to love in any way, I would hope that we all feel the significance and importance to acknowledge and respond to it.
Q: Away from the stage what do you like to do to chill out?
Scott: I. Love. To. Eat. Cooking relaxes me a lot and so does eating… Exercise also helps my brain settle. Then it’s the usual; seeing friends, family and being around as many dogs as possible.
Q: And, why should everyone get along to see Yank!?
Scott: Come and see Yank because it’s a story that’s not been told but one that everyone who has ever loved someone or something will understand. The score is reminiscent of MGM movie musicals and will (hopefully) stick in your head and you may even get to see a tap number. Maybe not. You won’t know unless you come!
Scott Hunter’s stage credits include Cinderella (Trinity Theatre), Grease (European tour) and Howard Goodall’s The Kissing Dance. Joining the company as Mitch is Andy Coxon, whose credits include Beautiful – The Carole King Musical (Aldwych Theatre), 20th Century Boy – The Marc Bolan Musical (UK tour), Les Misérables (Queen’s Theatre) and European tours of The Rocky Horror Show and Evita. Sarge/Scarlet will be played by Waylon Jacobs, whose credits include Chicago, Memphis and We Will Rock You (West End) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Regent’s Park). Bradley Judge will play Rotelli. His credits include Aladdin (The Brindley Theatre, Runcorn), Don’t Run (Waterloo East Theatre) and Sister Act (Aberystwyth Arts Centre).
The rest of the company of Yank! is completed by members of the original Manchester production: Benjamin Cupit who made his professional debut as Professor in the Hope Mill production; Lee Dillon-Stuart (Les Misérables at Queen’s Theatre and Carousel for Pitlochry Festival Theatre) as Tennessee; Chris Kiely (The Ladykillers and Pygmalion for Theatre Royal Windsor, Sunset Boulevard at Yvonne Arnaud Theatre and a national tour of Chess) as Artie; Kris Marc-Joseph (Anno Domini at The Actors Church, Children of Eden and See Rock City and Other Destinations at Union Theatre) as Czechowski; Mark Paterson (tours of Horrible Histories and Peter Pan at Manchester Opera House/New Victoria Woking) as Lieutenant/NCO; Tom Pepper (The Mystery of Edwin Drood at the Arts Theatre, and on television, Drifters, Grandpa in My Pocket and Red Dwarf) as Cohen/Speedy; and Sarah-Louise Young (a member of award-winning improvised musical The Showstoppers at Apollo Theatre and extensive cabaret credits including Fascinating Aida) as Louise.
YANK! is based on the Off-Broadway hit production from 2010, with book and lyrics by American writer David Zellnik, with his brother Joseph Zellnik’s musical score paying homage to the timeless music of the 1940s. The musical is directed by James Baker, and is produced by Katy Lipson for Aria Entertainment, Hope Mill Theatre, Ben Millerman with Jim Kierstead and Guy James.
Completing the creative team are James Cleeve as musical director; choreographer Chris Cuming; designer Victoria Hinton; lighting designer Aaron J. Dootson; sound designer Chris Bogg; and casting director Benjamin Newsome.
CHARING CROSS THEATRE
Monday 3 July – Saturday 19 August
Press Night: Monday 10 July at 7.30pm