Queen's Theatre Hornchurch to premiere Wilko Johnson play

Wilko poster

Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch is to premiere striking new biographic play with live music, Wilko.


Bringing to life the true story, words and music of Wilko Johnson, the piece by Jonathan Maitland (The Interview, An Audience With Jimmy Saville) is a tribute to a man who left an indelible mark on the music scene. The production runs from 1 – 24 February 2024.

A name that resonates with rock music enthusiasts and beyond, Wilko Johnson, the iconic rock star and co-founder of legendary band Dr Feelgood, was told he had one year to live in 2012. Refusing all treatment, he decided to spend his last months living meaningfully: seeing the people, places and things which meant most to him during his remarkable life… until a miracle happened.

Delving deep into the life and times of this rock ‘n’ roll maverick, from his time with Dr Feelgood and Ian Dury’s The Blockheads as one of the godfathers of the punk movement, to his acting career in Game of Thrones as Ser Ilyn Payne, the play blends live music, storytelling, and words from the Canvey Island legend himself, in a lesson in how to live life to the fullest.

Actor and musician Johnson Willis (Return To The Forbidden Planet, Amelie The Musical) will play the role of Wilko in a kindred performance having spent many years in the music industry and on the rock scene himself in the 1970s.

Johnson Willis said: “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. As someone who likes to only look forward, connecting both with Wilko’s and my own fallibility and follies of the past is hugely humbling. His star is out there and I will get as close to it as I can.”

Writer Jonathan Maitland added: “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. I have been a huge fan of Wilko and Dr Feelgood since I first saw him careering across the stage like a madman in 1974. He was an amazing showman and songwriter and his music still sounds amazingly fresh and vivid today.”

For more information and tickets, visit

About the author: Josh Darvill

Josh is Stageberry's editor with over five years of experience writing about theatre in the West End and across the UK. Prior to following his passion for musicals, he worked for more than a decade as a TV journalist.

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