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The Life

Gritty, powerful, funny and explosive, The Life takes a frank look at street workers plying "The Oldest Profession" in 1980s Times Square.

  • Full Length Musical
  • Drama
  • 120 minutes

  • Time Period: 1980s
  • Target Audience: Adult
  • Set Requirements: Unit Set/Multiple Settings
  • Cautions: Drugs, Mild Adult Themes, Strong Language
  • Orchestra Size: Medium

  • Performance Group:
  • College Theatre / Student, Community Theatre, Professional Theatre

  • Accolades:
  • Winner! 2 Tony Awards for Featured Actor and Featured Actress (1997)
    Winner! 3 Drama Desk Awards including Outstanding New Musical (1997)
A gritty, powerful, and vibrant look at street workers in Times Square, The Life is charged with emotionally revealing songs and realistically conflicted characters. Trapped in a location and situations most of us would avoid at all costs, Fleetwood, Memphis, Jojo, Sonja, Queen, Mary, and Lou struggle to survive and maybe, to get out.

Cy Coleman's celebrated jazz and pop-inflected score includes "Use What You Got," "The Oldest Profession," "Easy Money," "My Body," "Greed" and "My Friend."


"The Life displays more fresh, fully realized talent and go-for-broke pizazz than can be found anywhere else on Broadway..."

Vincent Canby, The New York Times

"The best musical of 1996-97... by far the most entertaining new musical to have opened last season... Mr. Coleman has composed not only his most driving, big-beat score since Sweet Charity but also his most varied and melodic work since On the Twentieth Century."

Vincent Canby, The New York Times

"Scorchingly unmissable, The Life is one of the finest shows in town! Slick movement matched with a simple design motif… combine to create an ingenious treat."

Jonathan Baz, Jonathan Baz Reviews

"It’s a thrusting, strutting show, gritty, dark and edgy… Coleman adorns it with one of his most scintillating jazz-based scores."

 Mark Shenton, The Stage

"Gritty yet surprisingly funny… perfectly replicates the busy nightlife of New York. The Life is a real classic with an important message about loyalty... a must-see for fans of musical theatre."

Nicky Sweetland, London News Online

"A brutal and sometimes gut-churning story of desperate individuals lurking on the fringes of New York’s Times Square. [There's a] mixture of jazz, funk and gospel in Cy Coleman’s surging score. Ira Gasman’s lyrics are often pin-sharp, and the performances pulsate with vitality."

Henry Hitchings, The Standard

Premiere Production: The Life opened on Broadway at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on April 26, 1997, starring Pamela Isaacs, Chuck Cooper, Sam Harris and Lillias White. The show won two Tony Awards and ran for 466 performances.
  • Casting: 5M, 5F
  • Casting Attributes: Strong Role for Leading Woman (Star Vehicle), Roles for Multicultural Casting, Expandable casting
  • Chorus Size: Large

  • Women
    QUEEN – A temporary hooker from Savannah, recently moved to New York with Fleetwood. She still hopes their dreams of a better world outside “The Life” can come true.
    SONJA – An experienced hooker from upstate New York, and one of Memphis’ women. Resigned to her fate but not broken by it, she befriends Queen.
    MARY – A young, pretty blonde from Duluth, Minnesota. New to New York, but not new to hustling men. She feigns innocence of “The Life” while using everyone to climb ahead.

    The Hookers:
    APRIL – A favorite of Memphis
    CHICHI – Somewhat larger than life
    TRACY (Doubling role: Jesus People Trio)
    DANCER – “The Doll house” topless bar employee (non-singing)

    JOJO – Well-dressed man in his forties & a hustler.
    FLEETWOOD – A disillusioned Vietnam vet trying to get ahead in New York City. Unable to break a drug habit, he loses everything in pursuit of “The Life.”
    MEMPHIS – New York’s most successful pimp on the block. He is sure of his power and is looked after by an entourage of other pimps & enforcer/bodyguards.
    LACY – Late middle age. A likeable if eccentric owner/bartender at the regular gathering place for the pimps & hookers of “The Life.”
    LOU – A smarmy hustler, future partner with Jojo in schemes yet to come.

    The Pimps:
    SNICKERS – Enforcer for Memphis
    ODDJOB – (A principal dancer)
    BOBBY – (Doubling roles: Enrique’s Shill; City Jail Guard)
    SILKY – (Doubling roles: Jesus People Trio; Enrique)
    SLICK – [Doubling roles: Jesus People Trio; Transvestite Hustler (Shatellia)]

    DENIZENS OF THE STREET: hustlers, dealers, scammers, stolen watch peddlers, three-card-monte dealers, hot dog vendors, shoe shiners, street corner saxophone players, derelicts, home boys, transsexuals, hookers & pimps, policemen, bouncers and horny customers of “The Doll House,” guests at the Hookers’ Ball.

    The cast is multi-racial and multi-ethnic.
  • Name Price
    Perusal Material Shipped immediately. This is optional. Order Now

    1 x Lib-Vocal Book

    Rehearsal Material Shipped a minimum of 3 months before the last performance. This must be hired as a condition of the License to produce this show.

    32 x Prompt Book & Vocal-Chorus Parts
    1 x Piano-Conductor's Score

    $550.00 +$135.00/pm
    Orchestral Material Shipped a minimum of 1 month before the last performance. This is optional.

    1 Reed I: Piccolo, Flute, Clarinet, Soprano & Alto Saxophone
    1 Reed II: Oboe, English Horn, Clarinet & Tenor Saxophone
    1 Reed III: Clarinet, Bass Clarinet & Baritone Saxophone

    1 Trumpet I & II (2 Volumes) (both parts double as Flugelhorn)

    1 Guitar (Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar & Banjo)

    1 Bass (Acoustic Bass, Electric Bass, Fender Bass & Fretless Bass)

    1 Keyboard I (2 Volumes) (Keyboard Synthesizer-principally Piano)
    1 Keyboard II (2 Volumes) (Keyboard Synthesizer-Bass, Strings & Woodwinds)
    1 Percussion:

    Timpani (2 pedal drums)
    Glockenspiel/Orchestra Bells
    Suspended Cymbal
    Small Cymbal
    Finger Cymbals
    Triangle (several sizes)
    Brass Bell (or mallet on Vibe)
    Bell Tree
    Mark Tree
    Plastic Shells
    Wood Shells
    Wind Chime
    Wood Block (several sizes)
    Cow Bell

    1 Drums-Trap Drum Set:

    Bass Drum
    Snare Drum
    Wood Block
    Hi-Hat Cymbals
    Suspended Cymbal(s)
    Ride & Crash Cymbals

    Piano-Conductor's Score (2 Volumes) set with rehearsal material.

    $350.00 +$135.00/pm