First look rehearsal images are released as the full cast is announced for the London season of the smash-hit musical A Strange Loop. A Strange Loop is transferring from Broadway to London’s Barbican Theatre for a one-time-only 12-week limited season from 17 June, with a producing team including the National Theatre, Jennifer Hudson and Alan Cumming among others.
The full cast is led by Kyle Ramar Freeman, making his West End debut reprising the role of Usher – which he played on Broadway – who grapples with desires, identity and instincts he both loves and loathes, all brought to life on stage by a hilarious, straight-talking ensemble of ‘Thoughts’.
Thought 1 is Sharlene Hector best known for being a lead vocalist for British band Basement Jaxx, Nathan Armarkwei-Laryea (Women Beware The Devil, Spring Awakening, Hamlet) plays Thought 2, Yeukayi Ushe (The Lion King, Kinky Boots, The Book of Mormon) is Thought 3, Tendai Humphrey Sitima (The Play That Goes Wrong) plays Thought 4, with Danny Bailey (Jesus Christ Superstar, Girl From the North Country) as Thought 5 and Eddie Elliott (Blues for an Alabama Sky, The Lion King and Motown The Musical) playing Thought 6.
Written by Michael R. Jackson and directed by Stephen Brackett, A Strange Loop is choreographed by Raja Feather Kelly, with set designs by Arnulfo Maldonado, lighting by Jen Schriever, sound by Drew Levy, costumes by Jen Schriever and Rona Siddiqui is Music Supervisor.
Michael R. Jackson’s blisteringly funny masterwork exposes the heart and soul of Usher – a young, gay, Black writer who hates his day job, so writes a musical about a young, gay, Black writer who’s writing a musical about a young, gay, Black writer…a strange loop.
Jackson’s critically acclaimed Pulitzer Prize-winning A Strange Loop, was nominated for 11 Tony Awards and winner of every Best Musical award in New York. Only the 10th musical to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama – with the previous winner being Hamilton – the committee cited the show as a “metafictional musical that tracks the creative process of an artist transforming issues of identity, race, and sexuality that once pushed him to the margins of the cultural mainstream into a meditation on universal human fears and insecurities”.
The New York critics heaped plaudits on this sensational production: The New York Times said the show was a “dazzling ride” and “no measure of praise could be too much”. The Wall Street Journal described the show as “hilarious, intimate and personal” adding that “A Strange Loop is extraordinary in just about every way. It represents theater at its most daring and unexpected”. And Variety summed it up, hailing A Strange Loop as “the most furiously entertaining show on Broadway”.
Michael R. Jackson is a playwright, composer, and lyricist who is a rising star in the world of contemporary writing and quickly gaining recognition as one of the most innovative voices in American theatre. Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Jackson moved to New York to attend NYU (New York University), where he began his career as a writer and performer. His writing is already drawing comparisons to other literary greats, and he is quickly becoming recognised as an inspiring and transformative writer in his own right. His next musical, White Girl in Danger, a co-production between the Vineyard and Second Stage, recently opened at New York’s Tony Kiser Theater.