Monday, 2 July 2012

The Harder They Come - The Concert

The Theatre Royal Stratord East is reviving some of its musical successes in 'concert' versions - I saw Ray Davies' 'Come Dancing' a few weeks ago, and on Friday was the turn of 'The Harder They Come'. A 'concert' version gives you all the songs and enough of the dialogue to make sense of the story without going the whole hog and enacting the full musical. Needless to say, 'The Harder They Come' was excellent!

I first saw the musical at The Barbican in 2008 before it transferred to The Playhouse in the West End. A year or so later it went on tour and I saw it for a last time in Oxford in 2010. I loved it every time I saw it and I still think there should have been a cast recording. There's still time. Please?

It was lovely to sit in the audience and see the actors come on stage in costume and start to chat and mingle, sitting down on either side of the stage. There was Ray Pierre, Miss Daisy, Hilton, Precious and, of course, Pinky. And even better, most of the cast were the originals including Chris Tummings as corrupt police chief Ray Pierre and Susan Lawson Reynolds as the glorious Pinky (fluffs up afro)! We had Marlon King as Pedro, the rastaman ("blessed love") who farms the hills outside Kingston to harvest ganja, Joy Mack as Miss Daisy and Matt Henry as our hero Ivanhoe Martin, the role played by Jimmy Cliff in the film. It was also nice to see new boy Delroy Atkinson as the nasty Preacher - Delroy was in 'Come Dancing' and played Gary Coleman in 'Avenue Q'.

Highlights of the evening were Pinky leading the cast into 'Women and Money', Ray Pierre's 'Pressure Drop' and Ivan's 'The Harder They Come'. Brother Pedro once again allowed us a 15 minute "ganja break" for the interval (there was still no ganja ice-cream though), Miss Brown sold hats in "international style at local prices" and Pinky and Precious gave us some dance-hall love.

I love this show and I'm proud to say so. Jimmy Cliff's great songs, along with Toots and others, conjour up a spirit of love and rebellion, music of its time and music for all times. I've said it before and I'll probably say it again, but I can't understand how Jimmy Cliff's music isn't bigger than it is - he's written some truly great songs and is still performing live (he played in London a month or so ago). I skanked my way home to Mr Cliff with those memorable characters playing out the show in my mind.

Blessed love, mon.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Re: 'Harder they Come'. Chris Tummings is not an original, nor is Matt Henry. The show first appeared at TRSE in 2006. These roles were played by Lain Gray and Rolan Bell respectively.
Delroy Atkinson was in fact an original, playing Longa, Dj, Photographer in the first production.