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The Life

Book:David Newman, Ira Gasman and Cy Coleman
Music:Cy Coleman
Lyrics:Ira Gasman
Director:Michael Blakemore
Choreography:Joey McKeely
Sets:Robin Wagner
Costumes:Martin Pakledinaz
Lighting:Richard Pilbrow
Sound:Peter Fitzgerald
Opened: 4/97 at the Ethel Barrymore Theater
Cast:Pamela Isaacs, Kevin Ramsey, Lillias White, Chuck Cooper, Bellamy Young, Vernel Bagneris, Rich Hebert, Gordon Joseph Weiss and Sam
Harris

This musical about pimps and hookers in early 1980s Times Square hustles jokes and stereotypes as old as the spotlighted profession. White brings down the house with soulful energy and an oxymoronically lively performance of a hooker who's plain worn out. But the overall tone is frustratingly mercurial, and despite the raw vitality of some standout performances and a spicy jazz score, the production unloads its share of cringing moments. It tries valiantly to drive home the realities of life on the street corner with unexpected spikes of violence; the result, however, is more jarring than illuminating. Among the creatures of the night are a prostitute who pines for a home and marriage (Isaacs), a coke-head pimp (Raimsey) and an affable old bartender (Bagneris). The production occasionally resonates with pain and longing but, overall, this Life is in need of resuscitation.


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