JIS News

The critically-acclaimed black musical, ‘The Big Life’, which traces the fortunes and trials of a group of West Indian immigrants to the United Kingdom during the Windrush era of the early 1950s, has created theatrical history by being the first black British musical to open in the London West End.
The musical, which opened at the Apollo Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue on May 28, has been attracting packed houses of black theatergoers at every show. The musical is consistently listed among the top five productions by theatre critics, who have lauded the creativity and artistry of the production.
The musical, which borrows from the plot of Shakespeare’s ‘Love’s Labours Lost’ tells the story of four Caribbean men, who migrated to London in 1956 and make a pact not to get involved with women until they find work and are able to better themselves. but then love intervenes.
While the men experience disappointment in their career aspirations, ‘The Big Life’ is really about but rather a celebration of the spirit and triumph over adversity. It features a glorious mix of music of Caribbean roots including reggae, soul, gospel, calypso and ska. The play captures the mood of the period in the music, and charts the stories of Caribbean migrants in their hunt for a better life.
While the musical celebrates multi cultural London, it does not ignore the tough time immigrants faced in their host community, but it holds fast to the belief that hard work and a buoyant spirit can bring success.
Many of the actors, musicians and others involved in production are of Jamaican heritage, including the Director, Clint Dyer.
‘The Big Life was created at the Theatre Royal, Stratford East and the quality of the production inspired a campaign to get the show transferred to the West End.
The production has received the endorsement of a number of well-known British personalities such as: David Lammy, the new Minister for Culture; Trevor Phillip, Chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality; Member of Parliament, Diane Abbott, actor Ian McKellen, television producer and actress Floella Benjamin; and poet and writer, Benjamin Zephaniah.