Tuesday night I visited Southwark Playhouse for the press night of The Life, a hit broadway musical starring 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), Joanna Woodward (Mary),Sharon D. Clarke (Sonja) and Cornell S. John (Memphis).
The Life, directed by the show’s original Broadway director, Michael Blakemore follows ‘Queen (T’Shan Williams), a young girl from Savannah, and Fleetwood (David Albury), a Vietnam vet with a drug habit who 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. On this journey, we meet Memphis (Cornell S. John), the all-powerful king pimp, the girls he controls, Jojo (John Addison), the hustler, who makes it all happen, and the fresh-faced Mary (Joanna Woodward), straight off the bus from small town Minnesota, only too eager to embrace ‘The Life’. It’s the 80’s and New York was strive with the seedy underworld of prostitution.
While this Tony Award winning show main focus is on Queen and Fleetwood, it’s Sharon D. Clarke as Sonja who really steals their show. It’s not hard to see why the audience responded so loudly to her rendition of “The Oldest Profession”. Her soulful voice coupled with her comedic timing had the audience in an uproar. Another song which had the audience cheering along was “My Body” performed by the girls of the show. A positive feminist anthem still relevant today reminding everybody that women have a right to choose and we should all be proud to sing out loud ‘It’s my body and my body Is nobody’s business but my own’. The Life was straight out fun and it’s no suprise that in 1997, the show received 12 Tony Award nominations and won 2 awards for best featured Actor and Actress.
Michael Blakemore’s updated version of The Life is even more spectacular. This is how I like my musicals, bright and colourful with characters you grow to care about, comedy and catchy show tunes. The cast of The Life were engaging, electric and energetic. So you know you’re in for a good time the minute they appear on stage. You’d be amiss to miss this four **** musical. The Life will be performing at the Southwark Playhouse until the 29th of April 2017. Get your tickets from www.southwarkplayhouse.co.uk
Reporter: Tegan LeBon
Twitter and Instagram: toogs1
Southwark Playhouse, 77-85 Newington Causeway, London, SE1 6BD
Saturday 25 March – Saturday 29 April 2017
Performances: Mondays – Saturdays: 7.30pm
Tuesdays & Saturdays: 3.00pm
Ticket Prices: £25 for all tickets (concessions available)
Box Office: 020 7407 0234