Friday, November 4

Sharon D Clarke and Cornell S John to star in The Life at Southwark next year

Michael Blakemore is to direct the UK premiere of The Life award winning musical which will star Sharon D Clarke (Ghost, Pigs and Dogs) as Sonja and Cornell S John (Porgy and Bess) as Memphis at Southwark Playhouse from 29th March to 29th April 20 with previews from 25th  March. Further casting is to be announced.

The Life is s a thrilling exposé of the darker side of 1980’s New York, The Life is a defiant and heartfelt musical lament for the old Times Square. A world of pimps and prostitutes, innocents and opportunists, it’s a gutsy and gritty joyride filled with both pathos and fun.

Queen and Fleetwood are just trying to get by. New York has hit a moral rock bottom, and opportunity is becoming a scarcity. Queen is now selling herself to anyone with cash in Times Square, while Fleetwood is spending that cash on his nightly fix. Such is a regular story for those in The Life – just ask Sonja, whose market value as a hooker is depleting. It seems that nothing ever improves for those in The Life, but when a mysteriously innocent farm girl named Mary shows up, and Memphis and Joio, the biggest players in town, offer to help Queen out, will things start looking up?

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). The original production of The Life, directed by Michael Blakemore, opened on April 26, 1997. It was nominated for 12 Tony Nominations and 9 Drama Desk Awards, and won three, including Best Musical. 20 years later to the day, Michael Blakemore will be directing the musical again.

On bringing the show to the UK, Blakemore said: "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.Funny, sharp and extraordinarily poignant, I think it will be something more than just a good night out."

Produced by Amy Anzel and Matt Chisling, the musical will have set and costume by Justin Nardella, choreography by Tom Jackson Greaves, projections by Nina Dunn, lighting by David Howe and musical direction by Tamara Saringer.

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