A production follows the real-life story of Musharaf Asghar, who won the heart of the nation when he overcame his debilitating stammer in the Channel 4 documentary Educating Yorkshire.

'Mushy: Lyrically Speaking' recounts the story known and loved by the public of a young man overcoming the odds with the help of an inspirational teacher, then asks what happened next as the teen was hit by the highs and lows of overnight fame. 

With music playing a crucial role in helping Mushy to find his voice, the show will use rap and lyrical narration written by rapper Raxstar, and the book has been written by Rifco Theatre Company’s Artistic Director Pravesh Kumar.

Musharaf Asghar, also known as ‘Mushy’, was the star of Channel 4’s reality TV series, Educating Yorkshire.  In amongst the chaotic comprehensive he was a 16-year-old impeded by an acute stammer which threatened to mute him. But thanks to his enthusiastic teacher, Matthew Burton, Mushy was at last given a voice. 

The show’s finale revealed an empowered Mushy who spoke to his entire year for the very first time, no longer debilitated by his stutter – his teachers, fellow pupils and the show’s 4m viewers (plus the 7m more who watched the YouTube clip) were brought to tears. 

Comedian Jack Whitehall called him a “hero”, and Jessica Ennis tweeted that the show made her cry. Mushy now attends events up and down the country as a motivational speaker, a young, positive, Muslim role model.

Musharaf Asghar said, “I’m really excited that Rifco Theatre Company is telling my story, everybody remembers the headphones moment but nobody really knows what happened afterwards. That one moment has changed my life and I hope that I can be an inspiration to other people like me.”

Writer Pravesh Kumar is the Artistic Director of Rifco Theatre Company. Pravesh said, “I first saw Mushy on a viral video online and his story really moved me. I started to think about what actually happened to him after the television programme, what is his story now? I contacted him and on the phone his confidence just really shone through and his stammer had almost gone. 

"I met with Mushy and Matthew Burton over a few months and started to collect their stories, they were both so honest and forthcoming. 

"We then took all the research into a workshop with actors and found that music played an important part of the narrative, and a new play infused with rap and lyrical narration was born. I'm genuinely excited about Mushy: Lyrically Speaking, it's a rare story about a boy finding his voice.”

Director Ameet Chana, best known for his roles in Bend It Like Beckham and EastEnders, alongside his work on Sunrise Radio’s weekend breakfast show, was recently appointed Rifco’s Associate Director to work with Pravesh Kumar on the Rifco Associates programme and Rifco Digital projects. This is Ameet’s directorial debut.

Lyricist Raxstar is a British Rapper from Luton Town who first came to prominence in 2005 with the song “Keep It Undercover” produced by long-time collaborator Sunit Music. Duality is an integral part of his identity as a British Asian, and his perspective allowed him to create songs like “Jaaneman”. The mixtapes Lost Ones (2008), Spring Cleaning (2010), About A Girl (2011) and Late On Time (2012) continued to showcase his work ethic, versatile subject matter and lyrical prowess. 2018 saw the release of debut studio album Glass Ceiling with features from Arjun, Pav Dharia and Humble the Poet. He kicks off 2019 with his most personal project to date, Artbreak. 

Rifco Theatre Company was founded by Pravesh Kumar in Slough in 1999, and has been Resident Company at Watford Palace Theatre since 2011. 

The productions media partner is Star Plus. 

Sarika Shankarnarayan, Vice President Marketing for Star UK, Europe & South Africa said, “Star Plus is pleased to come on board as the media partner to Mushy: Lyrically Speaking, produced by Rifco Theatre Company. 

"At Star we believe powerful stories inspire & connect people and we hope Mushy: Lyrically Speaking does the same by bringing alive contemporary British Asian narrative in a manner that is both thought-provoking & richly entertaining.”

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Tour details

6 – 15 Sept Watford Palace Theatre
20 Clarendon Rd, Watford, Hertfordshire, WD17 1JZ      
www.watfordpalacetheatre.co.uk | 01923 225671

26 – 28 Sept Birmingham Repertory Theatre
Broad Street, Birmingham B1 2EP
birmingham-rep.co.uk | 0121 236 4455

1 – 5 Oct Arcola, London
24 Ashwin St, Dalston, London E8 3DL
www.arcolatheatre.com | 020 7503 1646

8 – 12 Oct Leeds Playhouse
Playhouse Square, Leeds LS2 7UP
Leedsplayhouse.org.uk | 0113 213 7700

Mushy: Lyrically Speaking is a Rifco Studio production presented by Rifco Theatre Company and Watford Palace Theatre.