The Life

Music: Cy Coleman

Lyrics: Ira Gasman

Book: David Newman, Cy Coleman & Ira Gasman

The Life, a Tony Award winning musical which features music composed by Broadway legend Cy Coleman, tells the story of Queen, a prostitute who works 42nd Street to support her man, a Vietnam Veteran named Fleetwood. After years of selling her body on the street, Queen has finally managed to save enough money for her and Fleetwood to escape "The Life", but when she returns to her hotel room, she discovers that Fleetwood has broken into her savings and used it to pay off his drug debts. Meanwhile, Fleetwood and an opportunistic pimp named Jojo have befriended an attractive young girl named Mary who is fresh off the bus from Minnesota. When Fleetwood generously offers to let Mary stay with them, Queen tries to persuade the young girl to go home, but Fleetwood and Jojo have already begun to lure her in with promises of money and fame. That night, Queen is picked up by the police, and upon her release, she learns that while she was spending the night in jail, Fleetwood, Jojo, and Mary were having a threesome. Furious, Queen leaves Fleetwood and is soon taken in by a rival pimp named Memphis. It isn't long before Memphis reveals his true nature, threatening to kill both Queen and Fleetwood if she should ever attempt to leave him. When Queen tries to warn Fleetwood of these threats, Memphis beats her brutally. Queen has finally had enough. Sonja, a fellow prostitute, procures for Queen a bus ticket out of town, and she decides to say goodbye to "The Life" forever, but before she can board that bus, Queen is confronted by both Fleetwood and Memphis, and only one of the three will walk away alive.

The Life opened in the Spring of 1997 at the Ethel Barrymore Theater under the direction of Michael Blakemore. Although the production closed on June 7, 1998, after a run of just over 450 performances, it had already managed to win 3 awards for "Best Musical" of 1997, including the Drama Desk Award, the Outer Critics Award, and the Drama League Award.

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