Play the Songs
- Check It Out!
- Use What You Got
- A Lovely Day To Be Out Of Jail
- Oh Daddy
- A Piece Of The Action
- The Oldest Profession
- Don't Take Much
- Hey, Daddy
- Go Home
- You Can't Get To Heaven
- My Body
- Why Don't They Leave Us Alone
- Easy Money
- He's No Good
- I'm Leaving You
- The Hookers' Ball
- Mr. Greed
- My Way Or The Highway
- People Magazine
- We Had A Dream
- 'Someday' Is For Suckers
- We Gotta Go
- My Friend
Cy Coleman’s score for THE LIFE is charged with emotionally revealing songs; the music is the pulse of life itself, as experienced by the show’s characters. Trapped in a location and situations most of us would avoid at all costs, the personal stories and dreams of Fleetwood, Memphis, Jojo, Sonja, Queen, Mary and Lou are realistic and gripping. Musical numbers include Use What You Got, A Lovely Day to Be Outta Jail, The Oldest Profession, Easy Money, Greed, My Friend and My Way or the Highway. Actors and audience members alike are intrigued by the show and sympathize with the characters.
Music samples provided courtesy of Masterworks Broadway and Notable Music Co. Inc.
Lilias White sings “The Oldest Profession” from THE LIFE
- Rehearsal Materials
- Cast List
- Brief History
THE LIFE depicts the pulsating life on the Times Square streets in the 1980′s-where everything had a price, especially sex-the garish topless bars, the transvestite joints, the hookers who worked the sidewalks at the bidding of their pimps-Check It Out.
Jojo, an opportunistic, conniving white hustler in the thick of the action, has a bare-knuckled plan for feeding his ambition-Use What You Got. But among these unsavory characters there are appealing people who have been caught in the web of these sordid surroundings. Sonja, a veteran hooker who has seen better days, befriends Queen who is on the street because her man, Fleetwood, a displaced Vietnam veteran, needs her support. She has saved her money and on this day plans to get away with Fleetwood and leave the life for good, enjoying, with Sonja, A Lovely Day to Get Out of Jail.
Returning to her hotel room, Queen discovers that Fleetwood has spent half of her savings to pay off his drug debts and feed his habit-Oh, Daddy.
Fleetwood has an unrealistic dream of attaining power, money and A Piece of the Action. Jojo tells him he’ll never amount to anything as a pimp as long as he’s romantically involved with the woman he’s selling. Jojo takes him to the Port Authority where they find Mary, just off the bus from Minnesota, a girl with the mien of an angel but, as we eventually find out, she’s no angel. Jojo grabs at her suitcase so that Fleetwood can rescue it and become her hero.
The demi-monde hangs out at a bar owned by Lacy, who has seen it all but has certain affection for his clientele. In the company of her sister whores, Sonja bemoans the wear and tear of her life-The Oldest Profession. When Fleetwood and Mary arrive, Memphis, the “biggest businessman on the block” comments on the professionalism of his trade and soon zeroes in on the newcomer-Don’t Take Much.
Reluctantly, Queen takes Mary to the room she shares with Fleetwood and tries to persuade her to Go Home. Later, as prostitutes eye potential customers, a gospel group parades by -You Can’t Get to Heaven. The girls defiantly stand up for themselves -My Body, while the pimps complain about the harassment of the cops -Why Don’t They Leave Us Alone?
Jojo cajoles Mary into taking a turn as a go-go dancer. A smashing success, she celebrates her good fortune in Easy Money with Fleetwood and Jojo, who has her in mind for his “mentor” Lou, a gaudy Los Angeles producer of “motion pictures” of the triple X genre, who’s looking for fresh corn-fed talent.
Once again in jail, Queen reflects on her attachment to Fleetwood-He’s No Good; while, enticed by Mary, Jojo and Fleetwood spend the night with her in a threesome. As Fleetwood turns his attentions toward Mary, Memphis makes his move to put “Queen in his deck.” Queen discovers what’s been going on between Fleetwood and Mary, and decides she’s finally had enough -I’m Leaving You. As everyone parties at The Hookers’ Ball, Lou makes off with Mary, while Queen, shunning Fleetwood, attaches herself to Memphis.
Over a game of Three-Card Monte, Jojo and the pimps discuss their “silent partner,” Mr. Greed. In Memphis’ spacious apartment, Queen thanks him for getting her out of jail and for the beautiful dress he gave her to wear to the Hookers’ Ball; but Memphis makes it very clear that the dress was a $6,000 loan that she must repay with her earnings -My Way or the Highway. He warns Queen that she better not leave town “cause you’ll be coming back real soon for a funeral – Fleetwood’s; followed shortly by your own.”
Queen tells Sonja that she must find Fleetwood and warn him about Memphis’ threat. She asks Jojo to tell Fleetwood to meet her the next morning at Lacy’s. Meanwhile Mary, with Lou, toasts her acceptance of his offer of a movie career -People Magazine.
The next morning Jojo double crosses Queen and comes to Lacy’s with Memphis, who brutally flogs the terrified woman. When Fleetwood arrives, Queen reminds him of what they once had together-We Had a Dream. When Fleetwood returns to his hotel, he finds Mary leaving for Los Angeles.
Near the Lincoln Tunnel, Memphis’ henchman, Snickers, pushes Queen to get “plenty of action tonight. Memphis is dependin’ on it.” She, Sonja and other girls share their hopes for the future -“Someday” Is for Suckers.
Later, near the Hudson River in a spot once special to Queen and Fleetwood, Sonja hands Queen a bus ticket and a suitcase in a desperate attempt to get her away from Memphis. Fleetwood unexpectedly appears and tries to talk Queen into making a new start -We Gotta Go, but Queen bitterly rejects him. Jojo guides Memphis onto the scene. Fleetwood pulls a gun on Memphis, but Jojo knocks the gun loose as Memphis mortally stabs Fleetwood; Queen seizes the fallen gun and shoots Memphis. Sonja decides to take the rap for killing Memphis, claiming self defense; she and Queen say good-bye-My Friend, then Queen departs for the bus, which will carry her to freedom, as Sonja surrenders to the police.
Music by Cy Coleman
Lyrics by Ira Gasman
Book by David Newman, Ira Gasman and Cy Coleman
Dance and Vocal Arrangements by Cy Coleman
Based on an original idea by Ira Gasman
Original Broadway Production Produced by Roger Berlind, Martin Richards, Cy Coleman and Sam Crothers
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 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)
Timpani (2 pedal drums)
Triangle (several sizes)
Brass Bell (or mallet on Vibe)
Wood Block (several sizes)
1 Drums-Trap Drum Set:
Ride & Crash Cymbals
Piano-Conductor’s Score (2 Volumes) Sent with Rehearsal Material.
1 Piano Conductor’s Score (Two Volume Set)
1 Prompt Book for Director
18 Prompt Books for Cast
1 Original Cast CD
30 Chorus-Vocal Parts
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.
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.
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.
THE LIFE played for 466 performances on Broadway at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre starring Pamela Isaacs, Chuck Cooper, Sam Harris and Lillias White.
2 Tony Awards for Featured Actor and Featured Actress
3 Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding New Musical, Featured Actress and Music.
Find upcoming performances near you.
Organization City, State First Performance Last Performance