Date seen: Sept. 18, 1997 Understudies seen: none
Music by: Cy Coleman Lyrics by Ira Gasman
Starring: Sam Harris (Jojo), Lillias White (Sonja), Chuck Cooper (Memphis), Pamela Isaacs (Queen), Kevin Ramesy (Fleetwood), Belamy Young (Mary), Vernel Bagneris (Lacy), Rich Herbert (Lou), and Gordon Joseph Weiss (Snickers).
Brief Plot synopsis: The Life is set in Time's square, NY, in the 1980's. Jojo (Sam Harris) is an opportunistic white hustler, Sonja is an older hooker that has seen better days, Memphis is her Pimp. At the beginning, Queen has just gotten out of jail and she swears that she's going to "hang up her hooker shoes forever" and leave "The Life" with Fleetwood. But Fleetwood spent all their money on drugs while she was in jail on a prostitution charge. The last main character to enter is Mary. Fleet sees her coming off the bus from Kansas or something and senses that she is fresh meat. He tries to snag her and turn her into a hooker so he can get enough money to leave The Life with Queen. These characters all interweave into a very well developed (and far more complicated plot than the one that I have described,) but I think you should see it to get any more than that.
Review: I saw this show on a whim one night that I happened to be uptown and walking up and down Broadway looking for a rare CD (which I never did find). It was about 7:45 and I was passing by tkts and saw some shows on the board that I haven't seen before and the one that was of the most interest was The Life.
I thoroughly enjoyed it. Lillias White has made many strides from her Emmy winning work on Sesame Street. Her acting makes the show as far as I'm concerned. There were moments (mostly during Queen's many ballads) where I was mildly bored, but right then the wisecracking Sonja was right there. She provides most of the comic relief that makes this show fun. Her song… "The Oldest Profession" is hilarious, and for 10 strong minutes you are either laughing hysterically or applauding wildly. It was worth the price of admission for this song.
One of my reservations going into the show was Sam Harris…as a bad guy. Not exactly a typical role for him. He really took a chance with this role, which I find very admirable Since I am a theatre student myself. He pulls off the deceiving Jojo very well.
Chuck Cooper play a frightening Memphis that is very convincing, his two songs, "Don't Take Much," and "My Way or the Highway" are very powerful.
Altogether I found the show entertaining and I would recommend it to anyone that wishes to have a good time and doesn't object to the subject matter of hookers, drugs, and the pornography industry.
Rating: 5 of 10
( 5= Best, 0= Worst)
Other facts and Reviews: Awards: Tony, Drama Desk Award, and Outer Critic's Circle Award for Pamela Isaac's (Queen), for Best Actress in a Musical, Lillias White: Best Featured Actress in a Musical, Tony, Drama Desk Award, Outer Critic's Circle Award, and The people's Choice Award. Chuck Cooper: Tony for Best Featured actor in a Musical, and these are just a few.
Any questions and/or comments are more than welcome.
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