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THALIDOMIDE THE MUSICAL; Show covers drug scandal.

Byline: BY FIONNUALA BOURKE

A SHOCKING new show called Thalidomide: A Musical is being staged in the Midlands.

The controversial politically incorrect production has been created by, and stars, Thalidomide performer Mat Fraser.

It will feature songs including It's Hard To Hitch Down Life's Highway With No Thumbs and Talk To The Flipper.

One song lyric reads: "Yes I love him without any qualms, he'll be my guy and I'll be his arms."

And advance publicity boasts of a Monster Baby Tango.

The show is being staged at Wolverhampton Arena Theatre on November 11 as part of a national tour.

It is billed as 'a PC-free musical with a short-armed punch' that covers the history of the 1960s Thalidomide drug scandal.

The drug was developed by an ex-Nazi party member and was later sold with minimal testing to expectant mums to beat morning sickness. It caused thousands of children to be born with terrible disabilities. A spokeswoman for the musical said: "The play is set against the backdrop of the Thalidomide drug scandal of the 1960s.

"It uses a range of musical genres, from country and western through to ska and traditional music theatre, to tell the tale of one Monster Baby and his search for non-flipper love. In the 1960s, pregnant women were prescribed the drug Thalidomide to combat morning sickness. The side-effects from the drug were shocking.

"The most renowned result was Phocomelia, the name give to the flipper-like limbs which appeared on the children of women who took Thalidomide."

But while Thalidomide groups have generally backed the new show, they admit that some members have been offended by Mat's work in the past.

Dr Martin Johnson, director of the Thalidomide Trust, said: "We think it's great someone as badly disabled as Mat is making a great career in this industry.

"Many of the people we support wholeheartedly approve of him because his aim has always been to challenge society's attitudes towards the disabled.

"Some disabled people have been upset by Mat's work in the past, which is a shame. They say they feel he is drawing attention to them and it makes them uncomfortable.

"This show has not yet toured extensively so we have not received any complaints about it. In the past, London-based Mat, 43, has starred in Virgin Mobile adverts marketing their handsfree sets. He has also performed in The Flid Show in New York and in Channel 4's Happy Birthday Thalidomide.

Dr Johnson said: "We applaud the likes of Mat who continue to remind the public that being disabled doesn't mean that they are not normal in every other respect

CAPTION(S):

SHOCKING: Thalidomide performer Mat Fraser in a scene from the show
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Oct 16, 2005
Words:449
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