Poignant and sharp, The Life debuts in London after a 20-year wait

February 2017

Award-winning director Michael Blakemore is bringing musical The Life to the Southwark Playhouse in March.

“Getting The Life on in London has been an ambition of mine ever since we did it on Broadway,” Blakemore said: “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.”

The Life follows Queen, a young girl from Savannah, and Fleetwood, a Vietnam vet with a drug habit, who are trying to make it in New York. Queen is forced into part-time prostitution to survive, and the show, supported by Bruno Wang Productions, follows the experiences of the two lovers as they inhabit the dark world around Times Square in the 1980s.

Starring Sharon D. Clarke and Cornell S. John, The Life features a score by composer Cy Coleman (City of Angels, Sweet Charity, Barnum), and is based on an original idea by lyricist Ira Gasman. The original Broadway production received 12 Tony Award nominations, and nominated for nine Drama Desk Awards, winning three, including Best Musical.

Michael Blakemore was the first director to win a Tony Award both for Best Director of a Play and a Musical in the same year, in 2000, for Copenhagen and Kiss Me, Kate. For Kiss Me, Kate he also won the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards. Of the productions he has directed in London, 15 have won either the Evening Standard or Olivier Award in the categories of Best Play, Best Comedy or Best Musical. Blakemore most recently directed Noël Coward’s Blithe Spirit at the Gielgud Theatre starring Angela Lansbury.