Watch Billy Porter reimagine The Life, 1997 musical about Times Square sex workers

In the nine-minute video below, Billy Porter imagines how he would adapt and direct the 1997 Broadway musical “The Life,” which told the story of Black sex workers in Times Square in the 1980s — a show for which he auditioned as a teenager. “The music is genius,” he says of the score by Cy Coleman, with lyrics by Ira Gasman. “The thing that stuck out for me most was the fact that it’s white people writing about black people….They saw us, but the business was not ready at that time for the story to be told from us.”
Porter enlists the singer Mykal Kilgore to sing “Use What You Got” Ledisi to sing “The Oldest Profession”

“The Life” was nominated for 12 Tony Awards, winning for the performances by Chuck Cooper and Lilias White.

This is the first video of the new series “Encores! Inside the Revival,” and I love the idea (I don’t even vehemently object to the snazzy MTV-style video design.)

Future videos in the series:
Kenny Leon and Lydia Diamond reimagine “The Tap Dance Kid” Music by Henry Krieger, lyrics by Robert Lorick, book by Charles Blackwell, December 16

Victoria Clark, Jack Viertel and Rob Berman on “Love Life” by Kurt Weill and Alan Jay Lerner’

Ashley Park et al on “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” Book by Richard Morris and Dick Scanlan, new music by Jeanine Tesori, new lyrics by Dick Scanlan, and original story and screenplay by Richard Morris



Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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