The Life at Southwark Playhouse – casting details

Cornell S. John (Memphis) & Sharon D. Clarke (Sonja) - The Life - Photo by Simon Turtle (2)

Cornell S. John and Sharon D. Clarke get into character in for The Life at Southwark Playhouse, London. Pictures: Simon Turtle

Full casting has been revealed for the Broadway musical The Life which makes its long awaited London debut, directed by the show’s original Broadway director Michael Blakemore, at Southwark Playhouse from 25 March to 29 April 2017, with press night on 29 March.

The cast includes 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).

They join the previously announced Sharon D. Clarke (Sonja), who was recently appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2017 Queen’s New Year Honours for services to drama, and Cornell S. John (Memphis).

The Life features a rarely heard score by celebrated composer Cy Coleman (City of AngelsSweet Charity, Barnum) and is based on an original idea by lyricist Ira Gasman. The show features a book by Coleman, Gasman and David Newman, with book revisions for this production by Michael Blakemore.

L-R Aisha Jawando (Carmen), David Albury (Fleetwood), T'Shan Williams (Queen), Cornell S. John (Memphis), Sharon D. Clarke (Sonja), John Addison

L-R Aisha Jawando, David Albury, T’Shan Williams, Cornell S. John, Sharon D. Clarke and John Addison

The original Broadway production of The Life opened on 26 April 1997 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. It received 12 Tony Award nominations, winning Best Featured Actress and Actor in a Musical for cast members Lillias White and Chuck Cooper. Sharon D. Clarke and Cornell S. John will be assuming these roles in the UK production.

Twenty years after Michael Blakemore originally directed the musical, this new production is produced by Amy Anzel, Matt Chisling, and Catherine Schreiber, with Jenny Eastop as associate director, set and costume designs by Justin Nardella, choreography by Tom Jackson Greaves, projection designs by Nina Dunn, lighting by David Howe, sound design by Sebastian Frost, musical direction by Tamara Saringer and casting by Anne Vosser.

John Addison’s stage credits include The Go-Between at the Shaftesbury Apollo Theatre, A Christmas Carol and Tommy both at Blackpool Winter Gardens, Ghost at the English Theatre Frankfurt, Dessa Rose at Trafalgar Studios, Lend Me a Tenor at Vienna’s English Theatre, My Fair Lady at the Royal Albert Hall, 

L-R T'Shan Williams (Queen) and David Albury (Fleetwood) - The Life - Photo by Simon Turtle

T’Shan Williams and David Albury. Pictures: Simon Turtle

Sweeney Todd at Bolton Octagon, The Secret Garden at West Yorkshire Playhouse, A Little Night Music at the Menier Chocolate Factory and Garrick Theatre, The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theatre, and Les Misérables at the Queen’s Theatre.

David Albury’s stage credits include Exposure: The Musical at the St James Theatre, Only the Brave at Wales Millenium Centre, You Won’t Succeed On Broadway If You Don’t Have Any Jews at St James Theatre and in Tel Aviv, Love Story at the Union Theatre, Porgy and Bess at the Open Air Theatre, Regent’s Park, Bare at Greenwich Theatre and The Lion King on UK tour.

Jalisa Andrews’ stage credits include Sister Act at Epsom Playhouse, West End Live at Trafalgar Square, Birmingham Pride Ball at Birmingham NEC and Jedward/Spellbound at the Winter Gardens Blackpool.

Matthew Caputo’s stage credits include Mary Poppins and Top Hat, both on UK tours, Water Babies, Gypsy and 42nd Street (all at Leicester Curve), Cats on a UK and European tour, White Christmas at the Lowry, Manchester and West Side Story at The Sage, Gateshead.

Lawrence Carmichael’s stage credits include South Pacific at the Barbican and UK tour, Honk! at the Casino Theatre, Switzerland, The Clockmaker’s Daughter at the Landor Theatre, Holding the Man at Trafalgar Studios, On the Ropes for Salon Collective and Theatre Delicatessen and King Lear for Darker Purpose.

L-R Charlotte Reavey (April), Sharon D. Clarke (Sonja), T'Shan Williams (Queen) and Aisha Jawando (Carmen) - The Life - Photo by Simon Turtle

L-R Charlotte Reavey, Sharon D. Clarke, T’Shan Williams and Aisha Jawando

Omari Douglas’ stage credits include Annie Get Your Gun at Sheffield Crucible, Jesus Christ Superstar at the Open Air Theatre, Regent’s Park, Hairspray at Leicester Curve and on a UK tour, High Society at the Old Vic and Elegies For Angels, Punks And Raging Queens at the Criterion Theatre.

Aisha Jawando’s stage credits include being part of the original London cast of Motown the Musical at Shaftesbury Theatre, and the original London cast of Beautiful at the Aldwych Theatre, The Book of Mormon at the Prince of Wales Theatre, the original London cast of Fela at the National Theatre, The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre and Soul Sister at the Savoy Theatre and on UK tour.

Thomas-Lee Kidd’s stage credits include Mary Poppins on a UK tour and Top Hat at the Aldwych Theatre and UK tour.

Charlotte Reavey’s stage credits include American Idiot the Musical at the Arts Theatre, London, Grease for Belinda King Productions and Loserville at the Union Theatre.

Jo Servi’s stage credits include Dirty Dancing on UK tour, Sunny Afternoon at the Harold Pinter Theatre, City of Angels at the Donmar Warehouse, Before The Dawn – Kate Bush at Hammersmith Eventim Apollo, Ragtime and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (both at the Open Air Theatre, Regent’s Park), Jersey Boys at the Prince Edward Theatre, It’s a Wonderful LifeLittle Shop of Horrors and Blues in the Night all at the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, Peter Pan – A Musical Adventure at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Guys and DollsJailhouse RockRagtime and My One & Only all at the Piccadilly Theatre, Whistle Down The Wind on UK tour and being part of the original London cast of The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre.

Lucinda Shaw’s stage credits include Cats on UK and European tour, Gypsy at the Savoy Theatre, From Here to Eternity at the Shaftesbury Theatre, The Bodyguard at the Adelphi Theatre, Priscilla Queen of the Desert at the Palace Theatre, Spamalot at Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne and We Will Rock You on tour in Hong Kong and Thailand.

Johnathan Tweedie’s stage credits include Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, Jesus Christ Superstar on UK and European tour, It’s a Wonderful LifeDisco Inferno and Evita all on UK tours, Sweet Charity at the English Theatre and in Frankfurt, The Wedding Singer, Lend Me a Tenor and Mame, all at the summer Repertory Theatre in California.

T’Shan Williams’ stage credits include The Book of Mormon at the Prince of Wales Theatre, Love Me Tender on UK tour, The Blues Brothers at the Arts Theatre and Sensing Cesar at the Rose Theatre, Kingston.

Joanna Woodward’s stage credits include Beautiful: The Carole King Musical at Aldwych Theatre, Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’Be at the Theatre Royal Stratford East, Merrily We Roll Along at the Menier Chocolate Factory and the Harold Pinter Theatre, Lost Boy at Finborough Theatre and Charing Cross Theatre and Little Shop of Horrors at Kilworth House Theatre.

Sharon D. Clarke’s stage credits include Pigs and Dogs at the Royal Court, Ma Rainey’s Black BottomAn Oak TreeEveryman and Amen Corner for which she won the 2014 Best Supporting Actress Olivier Award, all at the National Theatre, A Wolf in Snakeskin Shoes at the Tricycle Theatre, Romeo and Juliet at the Rose Theatre, Kingston, Porgy and Bess at the Open Air Theatre, Regent’s Park, Blues in the Night at Hackney Empire, Ghost at the Piccadilly Theatre, Hairspray at the Shaftesbury Theatre, We Will Rock You at the Dominion Theatre, The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre, Rent at Shaftesbury Theatre, Guys and Dolls at the National Theatre, Mama I Want to Sing at the Cambridge Theatre, Once On This Island at Birmingham Rep and West End, Little Shop of Horrors at Leicester Haymarket Theatre and Medea at Theatr Clwyd and Young Vic.

Cornell S. John’s stage credits include Porgy and Bess at the Savoy Theatre, Les Misérables at the Queen’s Theatre, Pacific Overtures at the Donmar Warehouse, The Full Monty at the Prince of Wales Theatre, Messiah on European Tour and Riverside Studios, The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre, South Pacific at Sheffield Crucible, Sweet Charity at the Victoria Palace Theatre, Romeo and Juliet at the Belgrade Theatre, The Meeting at Pleasance Theatre and UK tour, Waiting for Godot at West Yorkshire Playhouse and UK tour, But I Cld Only Whisper at the Arcola Theatre, The Rubenstein Kiss at Nottingham Playhouse and UK tour and Baddies at the Unicorn Theatre.


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