Our House (musical)

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Our House
Our House (musical).jpg
Music Madness
Lyrics Madness
Book Tim Firth
Productions 2002 West End
2006 Japanese tour
2008 UK Tour
2011 UK Tour
2012 UK Gala Performance
2013 New UK Tour
Awards Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical

Our House is a musical with music and lyrics by Madness and a book by playwright Tim Firth. The show features songs from the ska/pop band Madness, and was named after one of their popular hit singles, "Our House". Premiering at The Cambridge Theatre in 2002, Our House was the winner of the 2003 Olivier award for Best New Musical and has since gone on to tour both nationally and internationally to great acclaim. Through the music of Madness, writer Tim Firth explores the themes of love, family values, growing up, responsibility and dealing with losing the people that shape us.


The story follows Camden lad Joe Casey who, on the night of his 16th birthday, makes a decision that will change his life. Trying to impress Sarah, the girl of his dreams, Joe Breaks into a building development overlooking his home on Casey Street. But things take a turn for the worse as the police turn up. Joe’s life splits into two; the Good Joe who stays and gives himself up and Bad Joe who flees and leaves Sarah to run from the police.

Our House follows the two paths that Joe’s life could take after that fateful night; one path means a criminal record and social exclusion, while the other will lose him the girl that he loves. Over a period of seven years and two alternative lives Joe deals with the consequences of that night. Whilst one Joe fights to keep Sarah, the other is marrying her in a glitzy Vegas wedding and, ultimately, while Good Joe fights to save his house on Casey Street, Bad Joe is determined to demolish it with tragic consequences. All this is watched over by Joe’s deceased father, who pulls the two stories together.


Our House has many obvious influences including Willy Russell's Blood Brothers and the 1998 romantic comedy film Sliding Doors. Some critics have even called the show the British answer to Rent, the Jonathan Larson rock opera which follows the lives of a group of 20-something year-olds living in New York. For many years prior to the creation of Our House, Madness had been considering ways that they could turn their songs into a musical. Following the phenomenal success of Mamma Mia!, featuring the music of ABBA, a new interest in so-called 'jukebox musicals' began to develop.

During initial publicity for the show in 2002, The band's lead-singer, Suggs admitted in an interview for the BBC that he was not particularly a fan of musical theatre, saying; "I can't say I'm a huge fan of musicals. I like music, and I like acting. I like Oliver!, I went to see that when I was a kid and West Side Story and maybe a few little bits and pieces over the years, but no, not a huge fan of musicals, no."[1] Tim Firth was approached by producers to write the script for the show, accepting the offer as he was a fan of Madness. Speaking to What's On Stage in 2002, Firth commented; "I'd always thought there was an irony that everyone remembered Madness as the nutty boys, but that was generated largely by the videos. The songs were actually just witty. And moving. And about something. And felt like they were part of a musical already. I still don't think I wrote the book of Our House. I found it.".[2]

Production history[edit]

Original West End Production[edit]

Our House was first staged at the Cambridge Theatre in the West End from 28 October 2002 to 16 August 2003.[3]

Michael Jibson made his professional debut as Joe Casey and was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical.[4] Direction was by Matthew Warchus with choreography by Peter Darling. For a time, the production team struggled to find a performer suitable to play Joe's love interest, Sarah. The problem was solved when Michael Jibson suggested Julia Gay, his class mate at Guildford School of Acting. Madness' lead-singer Suggs was cast for a short period in the role of Joe's Dad, a role which was also played by prolific stage actor Ian Reddington.

The production won the 2003 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical. However, it received mixed reviews and closed after less than 10 months.[5]

UK tour[edit]

A UK revival started at Birmingham Repertory Theatre and continued on a UK tour in 2008, with Chris Carswell playing the lead role of Joe Casey.[6][7] In 2008/2009 it played cities from Stoke in July 2008 to Crawley in March 2009.[8]

The touring production changed aspects of the show in reaction to criticism of show's début in the West End. House of Fun was replaced with "Los Palmas 7" as the opening of the show. "Sarah's Song" was also replaced with the new Madness hit "NW5".

UK Gala Performance[edit]

Our House returned to London's West End on 11 November 2012 for a one off Gala performance at Savoy Theatre. The performance was directed by the shows original director Matthew Warchus in aid of Help for Heroes. Suggs played the role of Joe's Dad in the production. www.ourhouseinconcert.com

International productions[edit]

A new production of the show toured Japan in July 2006, starting in Tokyo.

The show was performed in Ramat Gan, Israel, by the Beit Zvi Company in May 2010.

2013 UK Tour[edit]

The New Wolsey Theatre Company, based in Ipswich, toured the UK with a production of Our House in Autumn 2013.

School/College/University productions[edit]

Our House has been adapted to be performed within School, College or University communities, and has been performed by many schools and colleges.


This is a synopsis of the new production after the show had been adapted in 2008

Joe Casey, on the night of his sixteenth birthday, takes Sarah, the girl of his dreams, out on their first date. In an effort to impress her with bravado, he breaks into a building site overlooking his home on Casey Street, which is owned by Mister Pressman, a high-end property developer. The police turn up, at which point Joe’s life splits into two: the Good Joe, who stays to help, and Bad Joe, who flees.

Good Joe, having stayed to help Sarah, is sent to a ‘correctional facility’ for two years. On his release, finding that his past prevents him from getting a good job, he struggles to make ends meet. Despite managing to buy himself a second-hand car, he convinces himself that he is an embarrassment to all who care about him – especially Sarah, whose new college lifestyle reading law is complicated by Callum, a fellow student. In an effort to keep up with this guy, Good Joe is beguiled by his ‘mate’ Reecey into helping stage a break-in for some easy money – is caught and this time sent down.

Meanwhile, Bad Joe has lost Sarah, but is making a success of a burgeoning career, using his breaking and entering skills to install security systems which he then instructs a lowlife ‘mate’ called Reecey how to breach. His efforts soon earn him enough money to start his own business in property development, where he attracts the attention of Mister Pressman. Now a successful businessman, he is able to swan back into Sarah’s life, literally sweeping her off her feet at her college dance.

Three years later, at 21, Bad Joe and Sarah get married in Vegas, while Good Joe is leaving prison, forced to sleep rough in the second-hand car he bought all those years ago. At this point, Good Joe and Bad Joe’s worlds start to collide. Mister Pressman has decided to ‘redevelop’ Camden by demolishing Casey Street – except Joe’s mum Kath refuses to leave. This house is special, she says, given to her family in perpetuity because their ancestors helped build Casey Street.

Good Joe vows to save the house. He calls on Sarah, now a trainee lawyer engaged to Callum, to help prove that Kath does own the deeds to 25 Casey Street. Bad Joe, meanwhile, is called on by Mister Pressman to help destroy the house in a strong arm final straw tactic to get the occupant to move out. Bad Joe does this by arranging – with Reecey’s help - for the house to be burned down while she is out celebrating her birthday. While out to dinner with his friends, he tells them this and they all start to turn on Joe. He looks to Sarah for support but she is confused at the man he has become. Except tragically all Kath wants to do is wait in the house for her son to come visit her on that special day. In the Good Joe story, the errant son returns, holding the property deeds, to find the house burning down but his mum safe; in the Bad Joe story the ‘successful’ son returns too late, to realise his mum was in there, waiting for him.

From the ashes of the house fire Good Joe is reborn, reunited with Sarah, whom he marries, and also with his mum. Mister Pressman and Reecey are sent down for arson. Bad Joe, having lost Sarah and his mum, is sent down as an accomplice to manslaughter. And in the final beat of the show we wind back time to where we started, the moment of decision on Joe’s sixteenth birthday: when asked what he wants to do, somehow he knows now the right decision to make. He simply says ‘Let’s go dancing!’

Original cast[edit]

Original production team[edit]

Musical numbers[edit]

Recording and video[edit]

The recorded original production was telecast on BBC Three in December 2003 and was released on DVD on 1 November 2004.[9]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Original London production[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2003 Laurence Olivier Award Best New Musical Won
Best Actor in a Musical Michael Jibson Nominated
Best Theatre Choreographer Peter Darling Nominated


External links[edit]