While Da Boyz was a remake of Rodgers and Hart's 1938 musical comedy The Boys from Syracuse, one of the first-ever Shakespeare-inspired modern musicals (See Features, 28 Apr 2003), The Big Life is completely original, borne out of Stratford East’s Musical Theatre initiative.
It has a book by Royal Shakespeare Company literary manager Paul Sirett (Rat Pack Confidential) and a score by Paul Joseph, lead singer of reggae band Nazarites, which will be performed by a live five-piece band on stage.
On the Windrush over from the Caribbean to England, a pact is made by a group of men not to get involved with women for three years whilst they ‘institute a regime of work and betterment’. Each man’s resolve is tested as one by one they fall prey to Cupid’s arrow.
With 1950s period-style music, The Big Life charts the story of the Caribbean immigrants in their quest for a better life in Britain and their struggle to find work, homes and acceptance in their adopted country.
The cast includes Jason Pennycooke (Simply Heavenly, Golden Boy, Rent), Claudia Cadette (Rent), Chris Tummings (Buddy), Geoff Aymer, Marcus Powell, Maureen Hibbert, Victor Romero Evans, Lorna Brown, Yaa, Amanda Horlock and Neil Reidman. The Big Life is directed by actor Clint Dyer, making his theatrical directorial debut, and designed by Jenny Tiramani, with lighting by Gerry Jenkinson.
- by Terri Paddock