Theatre News

Cast for The Big Life musical revival announced

The show opens early next year in Stratford, east London

Karl Queensborough, Rachel John, Tameka Empson, Gabrielle Brooks and Ashley Samuels, headshots supplied by the production

Stratford East has revealed the principal cast and creative team for the upcoming revival of the Windrush Ska musical, The Big Life.

The production, which originally premiered 20 years ago at the venue and later transferred to the West End, will run at Stratford East from 16 February to 30 March, with the press night scheduled for 22 February.

Directed by Tinuke Craig, the cast includes Tameka Empson reprising her role as Mrs Aphrodite, as well as Juliet Agnes (Kathy), Danny Bailey (Admiral/Eros), Gabrielle Brooks (Sybil), Nathanael Campbell (Bernie), Khalid Daley (Dennis), Beth Elliott (Jacqueline/Secretary), Leanne Henlon (Mary), Rachel John (Zulieka), Karl Queensborough (Lennie) and Ashley Samuels (Ferdy).

Directed by Tinuke Craig, the creative team features Jasmine Swan as set and costume designer, Elliot Griggs as lighting designer, Emma Laxton as sound designer, Ian Oakley as musical director, Ingrid Mackinnon as choreographer, Jacob Sparrow as casting director, Becky Livermore as costume supervisor, John Boqwana-Page as production manager, Vanessa Sutherland as company stage manager, Emma Currie as deputy stage manager, and Tayla Hunter as assistant stage manager.

The Big Life has book by Paul Sirett and Empson, lyrics by Sirett, and music by Paul Joseph. The plot, which blends the story of Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost with that of the Windrush generation, is set in 1950s London and follows Ferdy, Bernie, Dennis, and Lennie, who arrive from the West Indies with high hopes. Determined to make a success of their new lives, the men decide to abstain from wine and women for three years. However, the women in their lives—Sybil, Mary, Zulieka, and Kathy—have different plans.

Additional casting and musicians for the production will be announced later.