Queen’s Theatre to celebrate Wilko Johnson

A show celebrating the life and work of legendary guitarist Wilko Johnson, described as an “Essex man through and through”, is to run in Hornchurch.

Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch will host Wilko, a play with live music celebrating the life of the Dr Feelgood co-founder, from February 1 to 24.

Wilko, who also appeared in drama series Game of Thrones, died aged 75 in November 2022.

Playwright Jonathan Maitland, also of The Interview, said: “Wilko was unique and an Essex man through and through, so it’s wonderful the play is being staged at Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch.

“He was funny, uncompromising and exciting, and our cast and crew are determined to do him justice.”

Wilko was one of the founders of Dr Feelgood, a rock band started on Canvey Island in the 1970s.

He had been told in 2012 that he only had one year to live but survived for another ten years.

He will be played by Johnson Willis, also of Amelie The Musical, who praised Wilko’s achievements.

“Being Wilko Johnson is the most extraordinary journey I have ever ventured on as an actor and finding the similarities of experience in rock and roll, family and travels, has been surprising and illuminating,” he said.

Jonathan, also a former BBC journalist, recalled spending a nerve-wracking day at Wilko’s Southend home to read him the play’s first draft.

“His only criticism was that I’d got the details of his 1970s and 80s drug taking wrong,” he added.

The play has a 135 minute running time and is suitable for all above the age of 11.

All performances from February 7 will be audio described and those on the evening of February 21 and 22 will be captioned.

A relaxed and dementia-friendly performance will run on February 15.

You can book tickets at queens-theatre.co.uk for the play.