By Mark Shenton
04 Jul 2014
Based on the novel by Sherley Anne Williams and featuring music by Stephen Flaherty and lyrics and book by Lynn Ahrens, the musical is set in 1846 in the antebellum South. It follows two young women on their journey to acceptance. Passionate and innocent Dessa Rose is a young slave faced with a barrage of hardships because of the color of her skin. Ruth, a young white mother, faces difficulties because of her gender. Ruth and Dessa hand down the story to their grandchildren, reliving the adventure they experienced together. The musical follows their deep and lasting bond and how this makes them part of a long, strong line of women.
Cynthia Erivo, Sharon Benson, Miquel Brown, Cassidy Janson and Jon Robins are amongst the company that will also feature John Addison, Edward Baruwa, Alexander Evans, Cameron Leigh, Gabriel Mokake and Abiona Omanau.
Erivo was last seen on the London stage starring in the short-lived I Can't Sing – the X Factor Musical at the London Palladium. Prior to that, she starred as Celia in the U.K premiere of The Color Purple at the Menier Chocolate Factory. She has also been seen in the U.K. tour of Sister Act: The Musical, LIFT at Soho Theatre and in The Umbellas of Cherbourg at the Gielgud.
Benson was seen in the West End run of Soul Sister and previously played the title role in Carmen Jones at the Old Vic.
Brown is best known for her 70s and 80s recording hits, but has also appeared onstage in The Amen Corner, Fame and The Reflection Day.
Janson, who was last seen in Candide at the Menier Chocolate Factory where she also starred in the U.K premiere of Tick Tick Boom opposite Neil Patrick Harris, has appeared in the West End in Lend Me A Tenor – The Musical (Gielgud), Avenue Q (Gielgud) and Elphaba in Wicked (Apollo Victoria).
Robyns was last seen in the West End in Monty Python's Spamalot and will next be amongst the cast of Memphis. He also starred in the original West End run of Avenue Q as Princeton/Rod.
It is directed by Andrew Keates, with choreography by Sam Spencer Lane, musical direction by Dean Austin, costumes by Philippa Batt, lighting by Neill Brinkworth and casting by Benjamin Newsome. It is produced by Arion Productions.