Full casting of the hit Broadway musical, The Life, includes John Addison (Jojo), David Albury (Fleetwood), Jalisa Andrews (Chichi), Matthew Caputo (Oddjob), Lawrence Carmichael (Snickers), Omari Douglas (Slick), Aisha Jawando (Carmen), Thomas-Lee Kidd (Bobby), Charlotte Reavey (April), Jo Servi (Lacy), Lucinda Shaw (Tracy), Johnathan Tweedie (Theodore), T’Shan Williams (Queen) and Joanna Woodward (Mary). They join the previously announced musical theatre stars Sharon D. Clarke (Sonja), who was recently appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2017 Queen’s New Year Honours for services to drama, and Cornell S. John (Memphis).
The Life, which makes its long awaited London debut, directed by the show’s original Broadway director, Michael Blakemore, will run at Southwark Playhouse for a strictly limited season from 25th March – 29th April 2017, with press night on 29th March 2017.
Described by the New York Times as “Broadway’s best kept secret”, The Life features a rarely heard score by celebrated composer Cy Coleman (City of Angels, Sweet Charity, Barnum) and is based on an original idea by lyricist Ira Gasman. The Life, features a book by Coleman, Gasman and David Newman with book revisions for this production by Michael Blakemore.
A thrilling exposé of the darker side of 1980’s New York, The Life is a defiant and heartfelt musical about Times Square before it was cleaned up. A world of pimps and prostitutes, innocents and opportunists, it’s a gutsy and gritty joyride filled with both pathos and fun.
Queen (T’Shan Williams), a young girl from Savannah, and Fleetwood (David Albury), a Vietnam vet with a drug habit, are trying to make it in a merciless New York. Queen is forced into part-time prostitution and ‘The Life’ describes how these two lovers move through this dark world until Queen is helped by her one true friend, an older more experienced hooker, Sonja (Sharon D. Clarke), to make her escape.
On this journey, we meet Memphis (Cornell S. John), the all-powerful king pimp, the girls he controls, Jojo (John Addison), the hustler, who makes it all happen, and the fresh-faced Mary (Joanna Woodward), straight off the bus from small town Minnesota, only too eager to embrace ‘The Life’.
The original critically acclaimed Broadway production of The Life, opened on 26 April 1997 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. It received 12 Tony Award nominations, winning Best Featured Actress and Actor in a Musical for cast members Lillias White and Chuck Cooper. Sharon and Cornell will be assuming these roles in the UK production. The Life was also nominated for 9 Drama Desk Awards, winning three, including Best Musical.
20 years after Michael Blakemore originally directed this musical gem, the new production of The Life is produced by Amy Anzel, Matt Chisling, and Catherine Schreiber, with Jenny Eastop as associate director, set and costume designs by Justin Nardella, choreography by Tom Jackson Greaves, projection designs by Nina Dunn, lighting by David Howe, sound design by Sebastian Frost, musical direction by Tamara Saringer and casting by Anne Vosser.
Cy Coleman’s successes on Broadway continued for over three more decades with the scores for Seesaw, I Love My Wife, On The Twentieth Century, Barnum, City of Angels, The Will Rogers Follies, and The Life. In 2004 Cy returned to his roots and revived the Cy Coleman Trio, once again wowing audiences with his amazing skill at the piano. During Cy’s amazing career, he took home 3 Tony’s, 2 Grammys, 3 Emmys, an Academy Award nomination and countless honors. Cy served on the Board of ASCAP for three decades and is a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Saturday 25 March – Saturday 29 April 2017
Performances: Mondays – Saturdays: 7.30pm
Tuesdays & Saturdays: 3.00pm
Press Night: 28 & 29 March 2017
Reviews running from 30 March 2017
Ticket Prices: £25 for all tickets (concessions available)
£14 for all previews
Southwark Playhouse, 77-85 Newington Causeway, London, SE1 6BD