Varun Raj has been announced as the title role of Mushy in Mushy: Lyrically Speaking, a new rap infused play by Rifco Theatre Company touring in Autumn 2019. Varun plays the teenager who captured the hearts of the nation and rose to fame on Channel 4 documentary, Educating Yorkshire, when he overcame his severe stutter with the help of his teacher, Mr Burton.
Varun Raj is a graduate of Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts and the University of Winchester. He previously performed in the critically acclaimed, sell-out Dubailand at the Finborough Theatre, and has also appeared in the films Baar Baar Dekho and Gold.
Performing the part of his intuitive and passionate teacher, Matthew Burton, who embodied the life-changing impact of good teachers, is Oliver Longstaff. He has starred several times at Watford Palace Theatre, in The Glass Menagerie, Absurd Person Singular and Sleeping Beauty.
Mushy’s ammi (mum) will be played by Medhavi Patel, who was nominated for the Eastern Eye Arts, Culture & Theatre Award for her performance in the UK tour of We Are The Lions Mr Manager with Townsend Productions. Other stage credits include Three Sat Under the Banyan Tree, Tara Arts and Polka Theatre’s first collaboration, which was also nominated for Best Theatre Production of 2019 by the Eastern Eye’s Arts Culture & Theatre Awards. On screen she has starred in Doctors (BBC), Holby City (BBC), Dogma 3: Only Girls (Channel 4) and Dogma 3: Snowman (Channel 4). She also appeared in the 2006 film Kidulthood.
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. Mushy: Lyrically Speaking recounts the story known and loved by the public of a young man overcoming the odds, 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. Mushy: Lyrically Speaking is a Rifco Studio production presented by Rifco Theatre Company and Watford Palace Theatre.
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.”