COMIC Tony Roper has spoken about the enduring appeal of The Steamie as the hit show prepares for its 30th anniversary tour.
Roper, a former brickies labourer, sent the 1950s-set comedy-drama on its first six-month theatre run in 1987.
The first play Roper ever wrote, it has since been seen in Finland, America, Canada and elsewhere and yesterday the cast for its anniversary tour was announced.
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It will see soap star Libby McArthur take on the role of Dolly, with River City castmate Carmen Pieraccini as Magrit, portrayed by Dorothy Paul in the 1988 TV version.
Mary McCusker, who played Mrs Culfeathers in the 2012 production, will reprise this role, with Fiona Wood, who was also in the 2012 cast, returning as Doreen.
Meanwhile, Steven McNicoll, who wrote and starred in the BBC sketch show Velvet Soup, will play jannie Andy.
Described as “a snapshot of a society, of a time and a cross section of strong women, all rolled up in Roper’s hilarious comedy”, the action plays out as a group of women do their washing, with young Doreen envisioning a new future, while Mrs Culfeathers looks back to the past.
Roper said: “In my late 40s I sat down with a biro and a jotter and wrote my first ever play. Thirty years have since passed and The Steamie is still there, giving laughter and tears and touching that intangible something in an audience that has made it a favourite night out.”
Before moving into acting and writing, Roper made his living in various roles, including those of miner and shipbuilder. He studied at the Glasgow College of Music and Drama and was recently made an Honorary Doctor of Letters by the University of Abertay in Dundee.
Perhaps best known for playing Jamesie Cotter in Rab C Nesbitt, he will appear again with sit-com best pal Gregor Fisher this Christmas, when the two drag up as the Ugly Sisters in Cinderella at the King’s in Glasgow. He was last seen on stage in two sell-out tours of Rikki and Me, in which he portrayed the well-loved comedian Rikki Fulton, with whom he enjoyed a strong friendship.
McArthur spent 11 years on the cobbles of Shieldinch as matriarch Gina Rossi in the long-running BBC Scotland soap before being written out in 2013.
She returned to film fresh scenes in February.
Meanwhile, Pieraccini, who first appeared in the programme in 2003, became one of the country’s best-known TV actors through the role of Kelly-Marie Adams.
Scottish acting royalty including Eileen McCallum, Katy Murphy and Peter Mullan have also had turns in Roper’s show over the years.
Voted one of the country’s favourite stage hits, the story sees women gather in a public washhouse to do their laundry, trading tales about their lives and loves and swapping banter with Andy, the only man in the female-dominated space.