The Life, Cy Coleman's Broadway musical about Times Square street life, will close Sunday, June 7, at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre after 22 previews and 465 regular performances.
Dealing with runaways, hookers and drug dealers, the musical will be remembered for recapturing the raffish pre-Disney Times Square. Coleman had visited the territory once before -- in his 1973 musical Seesaw -- though the Life lyrics by Ira Gasman and book by Superman writer David Newman (with Coleman and Gasman) got grittier than the sunny Seesaw did.
Much of the score was released as a concept album in 1996. Originally set in the mid to late 1970s, The Life has now pinpointed its time frame as 1980, a change made early in rewrites. "It's just right, the timing is right, the zeitgeist," spokesperson Judy Jacksina said of The Life after returning from one of its original rehearsals. "The show's been around for eight years, and I've been with it for three...not that I didn't believe in it before, but seeing Michael Blakemore work and Joey McKneely choreograph...it's beautiful."
Its promotional material featured a lady's foot in a scarlet, high-heeled plastic platform shoe and the words, "You're not in Kansas anymore." The latter slogan was later dropped.
Roger Berlind produced the Broadway show with Martin Richards, Sam Crothers and Coleman.
Sam Harris, one of the singing sensations from the Grease revival, starred as the story's narrator, flashing back over the gritty urban life he survived. Pamela Isaacs had the female lead of Queen, a prostitute struggling to get out of "the life." Kevin Ramsey was her Vietnam-vet beau, Lillias White (who stopped the show in How To Succeed In Business . . ., and played one of the Muses in the animated Disney film Hercules) played another prostitute.
Also in the original cast: Bellamy Young as a fresh-off-the-bus innocent. Vernel Bagneris as a bartender, Chuck Cooper as a pimp and Rich Herbert as a low-class filmmaker.
Michael Blakemore, the British director who helmed Coleman's the Tony winning City of Angels, directed the show. Choreography was by Joey (Smokey Joe's Cafe and Whistle Down the Wind) McKneely.
Other credits for The Life: scenery by Robin Wagner, costumes by Martin Pakledinoz, lighting by Richard Pilbrow, music direction by Gordon Harrell, orchestrations by Don Sebesky and Harold Wheeler, dance and vocal arrangements by Coleman and Doug Katsaros.
The score was first heard in the May 1996 release of a The Life concept album on BMG/RCA Records. It featured Jennifer Holliday, Liza Minnelli, George Burns, Lou Rawls, Joe Williams, Jack Jones, Peggy Lee, Billy Stritch, Bobby Short and other pop singers performing numbers from the show.
As listed on the concept CD, songs from the show include "A Piece Of The Action," "Use What You Got," "My Body," "We Had A Dream," "Easy Money" (to be sung by a 17-year-old prostitute), "My Way Or The Highway" (sung by the meanest pimp on the block) "Mr. Greed" (a dance number for three-card monte dealers), "The Hookers' Ball" and "He's No Good."
Coleman's latest musical, Exactly Like You, concluded a workshop engagement May 31 at the Norma Terris Theatre/Goodspeed-at-Chester in Connecticut. No word on subsequent productions yet.