Review by Haydn James
The Life was described by the New York Times as “Broadway’s best kept secret”. Well, some secrets cannot and should not be kept, this is certainly true of, The Life. This sassy, sizzling, thrilling and fabulous musical is now making its UK premiere and is making itself well and truly known, for all the right reasons.
1980’s New York has come to The Southwark Playhouse exactly 20 years since it first opened on Broadway in April 1997. The original production was directed by renowned director, Michael Blakemore. So, it makes sense that Blakemore is directing this fabulous new production, in London. And fabulous is exactly what it is.
It’s hard to believe that a story of prostitution, desperation, heartache and murder can be so entertaining, funny, touching and thought-provoking, all at the same time. The Life, certainly manages all of the above. Through a series of snappy, slick and sexy dance routines, accompanied by jazzy, soulful, smooth and heartfelt songs, the cast tell the story impeccably well.
The cast are truly phenomenal and insanely talented, there is not one weak link. This unforgettable ensemble of performers work every single inch of the stage and fill the theatre with their high impact performances and stunning vocals. It is outstanding how the cast work seamlessly together in what is a relatively small space, for such a big show.
T’Shan Williams plays the lead role of Queen, a girl from the country, living in the city. Queen dreams of leading an ordinary and simple life away from the depravity and dirt of New York, with her boyfriend, Fleetwood, played by David Albury.
Williams portrays the character with class and tells her story beautifully through her strong performance and sensational singing voice. Without being a scene stealer, Williams has a very powerful presence on the stage, largely in part to her amazing voice.
Sharon D. Clarke, takes the role of Sonja, the veteran prostitute amongst the girls. Clarke’s performance as Sonja is rich and effortless, just like her voice. Clarke brings some much appreciated comic relief with her characterisation of sassy Sonja, which balances out the heavier subject matter. One of the tastiest treats of the entire show is Clarke’s rendition of, ‘The Oldest Profession’. In this one song and performance, Clarke proves that she is a powerhouse of a performer and a true diva.
The score, by composer, songwriter and pianist, Tony Award winner, Cy Coleman is sensational! Not only is it unique and edgy but also eclectic and fresh. The score is wonderfully delivered by a full eleven piece orchestra and it’s sounds sublime.
This is one show that must make a West End transfer, taking its rightful place amongst the epic musicals.
If you like theatre with a raunchy, sexy, sassy and raw edge, The Life is the show for you! The Life will be playing at the Southwark Playhouse until 29th April, book your tickets now to avoid disappointment.
Saturday 25 March – Saturday 29 April 2017
Performances: Mondays – Saturdays: 7.30pm
Tuesdays & Saturdays: 3.00pm
Ticket Prices: £25 for all tickets (concessions available)
£14 for all previews
Address: Southwark Playhouse, 77-85 Newington Causeway, London, SE1 6BD
Box Office: 020 7407 0234