The Life, the 1997 Broadway musical that has a score by Cy Coleman (music) and Ira Gasman (lyrics) and a book by David Newman, Coleman, and Gasman, is to receive its London premiere, helmed by Michael Blakemore, who also directed its original Broadway outing.
It will begin performances March 25, 2017, prior to an official opening March 29, for a run through April 29, in a production that will be headlined by Sharon D. Clarke (last seen on the London stage in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom at the National and winner of a 2014 Olivier Award for originating the role of Odessa in the stage version of Ghost—the Musical) as Sonja and Cornell S. John (whose West End credits include Porgy and Bess, Les Misérables, The Full Monty, and The Lion King) as Memphis.
In the show, Queen, a young girl from Savannah, and Fleetwood, 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, to make her escape.
In a press statement, Blakemore commented, “Getting The Life on in London has been an ambition of mine ever since we did it on Broadway. The score is Cy Coleman’s masterpiece and we’ll be presenting it with the original 11-piece orchestrations. We've assembled a magnificent cast and the show seems to have gathered in power and relevance with the passing of time. Funny, sharp and extraordinarily poignant, I think it will be something more than just a good night out.”
This new production of The Life is produced by Amy Anzel and Matt Chisling, with set and costume designs by Justin Nardella, choreography by Tom Jackson Greaves, projection designs by Nina Dunn, lighting by David Howe, musical direction by Tamara Saringer, and casting by Anne Vosser. Further casting is still to be announced.
To book tickets, contact the box office on 020 7407 0234 or visit southwarkplayhouse.co.uk.