Haymarket Houses Genius of Ray Charles, 21 JunDate: 12 May 2005
As previously tipped (See The Goss, 5 May 2005), a new musical tribute to the late Ray Charles will come to the West End this summer. The Genius of Ray Charles is due to open on 21 June 2005 (previews from 16 June) at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, where it will have a limited eight-week season to 13 August.
Despite being blinded at the age of six and orphaned at the age of 15, the black American singer, pianist and composer became one of the major influences on both black and white popular music in the 20th century. Although he’s probably best remembered for his blues, gospel and jazz albums, through a long and varied career, Charles covered everything from pop hits to Broadway standards and country and western as well and continued to perform until the last years of his life.
After he died - of acute liver disease at the age of 73 in 2004 - his last album Genius Loves Company was posthumously released and went on to win numerous Grammy Awards. The musical follows in the wake of last year’s Hollywood biopic Ray, for which Jamie Foxx won a Best Actor Oscar in the title role. Amongst the Charles songs featured are: “Georgia on My Mind”, “Hit the Road Jack”, “I Can’t Stop Loving You” and “Unchain My Heart”.
The Genius of Ray Charles had its US premiere last month in Eldorado, Nevada. The 32-strong American company of singers, dancers and musicians will reprise their performances in the West End. The show is directed and choreographed by Gary Lloyd and presented by David King for Spirit of the Dance Productions.
Currently at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, Victoria Wood’s debut musical Acorn Antiques, starring Julie Walters as Mrs Overall, finishes its season on 21 May 2005. Later this summer, The Genius of Ray Charles will be followed by Aaron Sorkin’s play A Few Good Men, in which Hollywood’s Rob Lowe will make his West End debut. It starts performances on 18 August (See News, 25 Apr 2005).
- by Terri Paddock