Tony's a Winner


Bass guitar
Electric guitar

Additional Information

Tony's a Winner

Rock opera in one act, for three piece band and theatre group, 20 mins, 2003.

An experimental lo-fi alt-rock-opera is inspired by a Daily Mirror story (discovered in the Laurel and Hardy Museum, Ulverston) about Laurel and Hardy superfan Tony Hawes, who was the voiceover announcer of 1970s British TV gameshow The Generation Game. He used to announce the prizes that appeared on a conveyor belt at the end of each show; whichever prizes the contestants could remember (usually fairly mundane consumer items), they got to keep. At a Laurel and Hardy convention in the United States, the article reports, Tony met and later married Stan Laurel’s daughter, Lois.

Amid the opera's early Hollywood inspired set (beyond the budget of the 2003 performances), the action imagines Tony as a modern god-king whose gift to the mortal world is modest consumer goods – cuddly toys and table lamps – and who is exalted by airport worker acolytes. They celebrate his marriage to Lois, daughter of a comedy god of yore, a marriage which creates a new righteous light entertainment divine dynasty (with Larry Grayson as pontiff). The airport workers honour Tony’s apotheosis in an oblique fashion, however. The worker’s sing of their own everyday working lives – which, like Tony's, centre around conveyor belts and voice announcements – and it is these mundane affinities with Tony that seems to motivate their faith in the god-king. The refrain in the finale of the opera, "Tony's a winner, isn't life grand?" is sung with devotion, but is there also a hint of dry irony in those voices? Do the hallowed distractions of consumer objects and light entertainment have their limitations after all? Commissioned for Grizedale Arts’ ‘Roadshow’ project of 2003.

The score below is for the Overture, Scene 1 and Scene 2 only. A stereo remixed version of Tony's a Winner by The NWRA House Band, was released as an album on Owd Scrat Records in 2020. This release combines fragmentary demos of the opera recorded by Amanda Brown, Colin Cromer and Paul Rooney in early 2003, with newly recorded vocals from Greg Milton, Vicky Holding and Jodie Mellor, and the CD also includes a version assembled from live recordings of the 2003 tour.…