A life of Jake

by peter Lazenby A MUSICAL about the life of one of Yorkshire's most popular entertainers is to be staged in May.

Jake Thackray was a Leeds teacher who turned professional musician. He won millions of followers as a solo artist accompanying himself on guitar.

He enjoyed regular TV appearances, album recordings, and earned the reputation as "Yorkshire's Noel Coward" with his invention of hilarious and sometimes pathetic characters ranging from an over-sexed cockerel to an affectionate but slobbering dog, lustful blacksmiths, beautiful women with grotesque relatives, country girls longing for the Saturday dance, and jilted lovers drinking themselves into oblivion.

The musical, Sister Josephine Kicks the Habit, was started by Jake but remained unfinished due to his untimely death on Christmas Eve, 2002 at his home in Swaledale. He was 63.

Now the work has been completed by Yorkshire poet and writer Ian McMillan, who has set it in a North Yorkshire village and written the narrative in rhyme.

The musical is being sponsored by North Yorkshire brewer Theakston, headed by Simon Theakston. It is also supported by the Arts Council and is directed by Yorkshire actor/director, Fine Time Fontayne.

It will have its world premiere at Helmsley Arts Centre on May 24.

The production by Ian Watson lasts until May 28 before going on national tour in the autumn.

Jake taught English at Intake Secondary School, Bramley, before becoming a professional singer/songwriter. He began performing in Leeds folk clubs and on local radio.

He also wrote a column for the Yorkshire Post in the early 1990s,

He had a succession of hit albums, the first of which was The Last Will and Testament, and went on to make more than 1,000 TV and radio appearances from the 1960s to the 1980s.

He performed all over the world, despite being an intensely shy man. He preferred smaller folk clubs to large venues and was more likely to be seen touring community halls than large theatres.

The musical will bring to life many of the eccentric characters created by Jake .