Broadway hit musical Play On! comes to Liverpool

Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse, along with its associate company Talawa Theatre, are taking audiences back to the vibrant jazz scene of 1940s New York with Play On!

A retelling of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, created as part of Talawa’s Black Joy 2024, the musical celebrates Black stories and artists from Tuesday, 15 to Saturday, 19 October, at the Liverpool Playhouse.

Play On! is set in the jazz scene of 1940s New York’s Cotton Club. This stylish retelling of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night fuses the thrilling music of Duke Ellington with street dance choreography. Directed by Talawa’s Artistic Director Michael Buffong (A Kind of People, Royal Court; All My Sons, Talawa and Royal Exchange), conceived by Sheldon Epps, with a book by Cheryl L. West.

At the heart of the Black Joy season, Play On! will provide opportunities for emerging and mid-career global majority talent to collaborate on a large-scale production and tour, tackling the issue of under-representation in the industry.

With the aim of supporting a Liverpudlian artist of African-Caribbean descent in creating new work that delves into Liverpool’s rich musical history, a new studio production, co-commissioned by Talawa and Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse, will be featured as part of the season.

Mark Da Vanzo, CEO for the theatres said, “We’re thrilled to finally be announcing our part in the Black Joy season, led by our Associate Company Talawa. With a joyous jazz musical set in New York’s Cotton Club at its heart, and the opportunity to commission a local artist from the global majority, this collaboration truly serves our ambitions to ensure a diversity of talent and stories on our stages.”

Play On! is a collaborative production involving Talawa Theatre Company; Belgrade Theatre, Coventry; Birmingham Hippodrome; Bristol Old Vic; Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse Theatre; Lyric Hammersmith Theatre; and Wiltshire Creative, Salisbury. These partners of Play On! will engage in the Seed Commission programme, designed to nurture the creative work of global majority artists.

Michael Buffong, the Artistic Director of Talawa said, “We are incredibly proud to finally realise our vision of bringing this artistically ambitious body of work to theatres across the length and breadth of the UK. As a Black theatre company, now more than ever, we are determined to spotlight and celebrate great Black British talent, on and off stage, and ensure that Black talent and creativity are at the heart of building cohesion in our country. We hope this season will bring Joy wherever it goes…”

The musical will tour to Liverpool Playhouse from Tuesday 15 October to Saturday 19 October. Tickets are available now at everymanplayhouse.com

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