On Thursday evening I had the absolute delight of attending The Life Musical at The Alumnae Theatre, Toronto. Presented by the wonderful cast and crew of Call It A Day Productions, and directed by Danik McAfee, The Life tells the story of the prostitutes of 42nd Street, New York City.
Set in the mid-1980’s; pre-squeaky clean NY City you see today, we are initially introduced to our female lead, Queen, played by powerhouse voice, Jacquie Martin. Queen and her boyfriend Fleetwood (Bryan Kling) moved to the ‘big apple’ a few years prior, hoping to make enough money to save up and move to Savannah, Georgia to settle down and have a family. But despite big dreams being in plentiful supply, the opportunities to make them happen were not. Well, that depended on what profession you decided to follow…and for Queen, there seemed to be only one alternative.
Madly in love with Fleetwood, she promises to make things work, despite his lazy, careless attitude. Little does she know that when she chooses the “World’s Oldest Profession”…prostitution…her earnings on the street end up supporting her boyfriend’s crippling drug addiction.
What is she to do? She adores a man who financially abuses her, she despises every aspect of her job, she has to fight off competing pimps who claim to own her, and despite wishing to leave this “life” for a better one, she has come to love her fellow “ladies of the night,” who are her family in many ways.
What happens? What life does she choose? You’re just going to have to come along to the show and see for yourself.
But what I can tell you is this. It was probably, if not definitely, one of the most touching storylines that has ever graced the musical stage. Originally debuting on the Broadway stage in 1997; winning 3 Tony Awards, I was curious as to whether this piece of theatre would still resonate with today’s public.
But after seeing the cast of Call It A Day Productions revive it this week, I knew for certain that this story is not only memorable, relatable and overall enjoyable…but it is TIMELESS! From the back story, it may seem to the reader that the show is quite dark and deep, but let me tell you this…you will be laughing, chuckling and of course shed the odd tear at times. But these combination of emotions prove to us how great a show it is. A show without feeling, is not a show at all; we must remember.
But what about the cast? Phenomenal, Breath-taking…Electric…all these words come to mind and many more, when thinking of their performance. Each actor/actress on stage performed with every fibre of their being, accurately portraying the exploitive hooker-pimp-customer relationship. But what you will love most of all, which will have you laughing hysterically and sighing adorably throughout, is the tightly knit relationships each prostitute has with one another. Despite their different stories and different dreams, they look out for each other, in order to survive.
There were undeniably scenes throughout the show, when certain characters shone bright, despite the entire cast being out of this world. For example, Liana Lewis (Co-Co) and Lauren Mayer (Frenchie) set the stage alight with their slick, sexy and on-point choreography during the most well-known number, My Body.
And when Michelle Shuster (Sonya) belted out the sorrowful ballad The Oldest Profession and dueted with lead lady Jacquie Martin (Queen) in their rendition of My Friend, my heart just melted with every lyric.
But I believe everyone would agree that the actress who had us all in fits of laughter, was queen of comedy, Jada Rifkin. Jada; gifted with some powerful moves and an equally incredible voice to match, played prostitute Lacy…the tart with the heart, mixologist extraordinaire, shoulder to cry on, and proud owner of a bar-tab the length of your arm.
Jada had the entire audience in fits of laughter with her portrayal of eccentric Lacy, who aimed to lift the moods of all the down and out girls, with her killer one-liners, loveable nature and hilarious scenes, especially her contribution to musical number, “The Hooker’s Ball.”
All in all, The Life is one of the best musicals I have seen so far. I adored the storyline fell in love with the addictive musical score and was mesmerised by a cast and creative team that will blow your socks off. But what more could you expect from the wonderful gang of Call It A Day Productions?
The Life is sexy, soulful, touching and has a heart of gold.
So if you want to see the fantastic show for yourself, make sure to get down to the Alumnae Theatre, 70 Berkley Street , Toronto, before its last performance on Sunday Dec 11th. Tickets can be purchased at the door or online by clicking HERE.
5 OUT OF 5 STAR RATING!!!!