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About the opera: The original book entitled ‘I’m All Right Jack’ was written by Alan Hackney in 1958. In the same year the story was filmed by The Boulting Brothers with Ian Carmichael starring as Stanley. The shop steward, Mr. Kite, was played by Peter Sellers in one of his greatest screen performances. The film won The British Academy Award for best screenplay in 1959.
In 1984, in the midst of the miner's strike, Alan Hackney invited Howard Blake to collaborate on a musical version. Songs and a script were written but it was left incomplete. In late 2008, as the credit crunch began to take a grip, theatre director Bill Alexander suggested that it should be revisited. Howard returned to both film and book and substantially revised the work, adding new music and dialogue. The music itelf is comedic and largely populist but contains more serious elements for a cast and chorus. It could work with either a small ensemble in the style of Kurt Weill or for a larger opera orchestra.
About the book: The novel was first published in England in June 1958 by Gollancz. The hero of the book, Stanley Windrush, had appeared in Hackney’s earlier book, ‘Private’s Progress’, where he was seen tangling with the Army at the tail end of the last war. In ‘I’m all right Jack’ it is the unions with whom Stanley tangles. The book became a best seller and the hardback publication in the USA was by W.W.Norton Inc in 1959. Paperback publication was by Pan Books in London (1959) and by Signet, for New English Library in the USA (1960). After a number of printings, Gollancz brought out a hardback reissue in 1972. In all other respects, copyright remains with the author, Alan Hackney