The Life

The Life, The Southwark Playhouse

You’re not in Kansas anymore…

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 received 12 Tony Nominations of which it won two, and 9 Drama Desk Awards of which it won three, including Best Musical. 20 years later to the day, Michael Blakemore will be directing the musical again, starring stage legends Sharon D. Clarke and Cornell S. John.

Dance and Vocal Arrangements by Cy Coleman. Based on an Original idea by Ira Gasman. Original Broadway Production produced by Roger Berlind, Martin Richards, Cy Coleman and Sam Crothers.

The Life running time: 
2 hours 50 minutes

Queen, a young girl from Savannah, and Fleetwood, a Vietnam vet with a drug habit, are trying to make it in a merciless New York. Queen is forced into part-time prostitution and ‘The Life’ describes how these two lovers move through this dark world until Queen is helped by her one true friend, an older more experienced hooker, Sonja, to make her escape. On this journey, we meet Memphis, the all-powerful king pimp, the girls he controls, Jojo, the hustler, who makes it all happen, and the fresh-faced Mary, straight off the bus from small town Minnesota, only too eager to embrace ‘The Life’.

Music by Cy Coleman, lyrics by Ira Gasman, Book by David Newman, Ira Gasman and Cy Coleman.
Amy Anzel Matt Chisling, Catherine Schreiber
Michael Blakemore
Songs by:
Music by Cy Coleman, lyrics by Ira Gasman
David Howe
Justin Nardella
Tom Jackson Greaves
Justin Nardella
Cast list:
Sharon D. Clarke as Sonja and Cornell S. John as Memphis will be John Addison (Jojo), David Albury (Fleetwood), Jalisa Andrews (Chichi), Matthew Caputo (Oddjob), Lawrence Carmichael (Snickers), Omari Douglas (Slick), Aisha Jawando (Carmen), Thomas-Lee Kidd (Bobby), Charlotte Reavey (April), Jo Servi (Lacy), Lucinda Shaw (Tracy), Johnathan Tweedie (Theodore), T’Shan Williams (Queen) and Joanna Woodward (Mary).
Other info:
Musical direction by Tamara Saringer

Southwark Playhouse

77-85 Newington Causeway, London, SE1 6BD
Nearest tube:
Elephant & Castle, Borough
Seating Plan:

The Life Customer reviews

Our The Life Review

It's undeniable that Cy Coleman is Broadway's most versatile composer. With a career that spans four decades few can claim an unfamiliarity with his scores to shows such as Sweet Charity, City of Angels, On the Twentieth Century and Little Me. The Life, his final Broadway contribution is perhaps his trickiest in terms of overall tone and construction but like a rare jewel that eventually... Read more

Latest The Life News & Features

Interview with director Michael Blakemore about The Life
Thursday, March 23, 2017

A musical about the dark underbelly of Times Square in the 1980s may sound like a difficult elevator pitch for a Broadway musical, but Cy Coleman, David Newman and Ira Gasman's The Life defied many critics when it originally opened in New York twenty years ago. Hot off the success of the Tony Award-winning City of Angels, The Life reunited composer Cy Coleman with Australian director Michael Blakemore who collaborated on this edgy and difficult show that followed pimps, prostitutes, drug dealers and runaways in a powerful melodrama.

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