Previewed 25 March 2006, Opened 6 April 2006, Closed 10 June 2006 at Theatre Royal
Returned 1 February 2007, Closed 31 March 2007 at the Theatre Royal
Previewed 6 March 2008, Opened 11 March 2008, Closed 5 April at the Barbican Theatre
Previewed 23 May 2008, Opened 9 June 2008, Closed 13 September 2008 at the Playhouse Theatre
The stage musical adaptation of Perry Henzell's The Harder They Come in London.
The 70's cult classic film is back to life on stage! The film that ignited the worldwide reggae revolution explodes again live on stage at London's Playhouse Theatre. Country-boy Ivan leaves home in the Jamaican countryside and travels to Kingston, his head full of songs that he hopes will earn him fame and fortune. But fortune is hard to find as Ivan is ripped off by shady record producers and corrupt cops. He does find the fame he craves - but for all the wrong reasons.
The Harder They Come features all the songs from the film's blazing soundtrack, including: You Can Get It If You Really Want; Many Rivers to Cross; Pressure Drop; By the Rivers of Babylon; Sitting in Limbo; and The Harder They Come. This prduction transfers to London's West End following two sell-out seasons at the Theatre Royal Stratford East (where it broke box office records) and at the Barbican Theatre. Based on the film produced and directed by Perry Henzell, co-written with Trevor Rhone with production design by Sally Henzell. This live presentation was adapted for the stage by Perry Henzell and is directed by Kerry Michael and Dawn Reid with designs by Ultz. PLEASE NOTE: This production contains some strong language and the age guidance is 15 and over.
The original West End cast at the Playhouse Theatre starred Rolan Bell as 'Ivan' with Joanna Francis as 'Elsa', Marlon King as 'Pedro', Susan Lawson-Reynolds as 'Pinky', Joy Mack as 'Miss Daisy', Marcus Powell as 'Hilton', Chris Tummings as 'Ray Pierre', Victor Romero Evans as 'Preacher', Karlene Wray as 'Precious', Derek Elroy as 'Longa / Numero Uno', J A Murrell as 'Sergeant', Joe Speare as 'Jose', Matthew J Henry as 'Photographer', Jacqui Dubois as 'Miss Brown' and Kirk Patterson as 'Singer'. Directed by Kerry Michael and Dawn Reid with designs by Ultz, choreography by Jacke Guy, lighting by Jo Joelson and sound by Stefan Lumsden. Musical by Perry Henzell adapted for the stage by Justine Henzell, based on the film produced and directed by Perry Henzell and co-written by Trevor Rhone.
"The late Perry Henzell's stage adaptation of his classic reggae film, The Harder They Come, became the most successful play in the Theatre Royal, Stratford East's history when it was first staged in 2006. Kerry Michael's vibrant production has now taken up residence at the Barbican, and if the first night audience's response is anything to go by - a standing, dancing ovation - its success is sure to continue... Formulaic as the plot may be, and morally dubious some of its assertions, all qualms are swept away by the life-affirming vigour of the music, and the scintillating performances." The Sunday Telegraph
"Made in 1972, the iconic film The Harder They Come was a milestone: it was the first feature film to be shot in Jamaica with a Jamaican director and cast. It revealed the grim realities of Jamaican life as well as its most famous asset - the sound of reggae - to audiences overseas... The late Perry Henzell's film told the real-life cautionary tale of Ivan Martin, a good boy from the country who went to Kingston with dreams of being a star but became caught up in drugs and the cut-throat, corrupt music business and died in a shoot-out with the police. In other words, poverty and predators turn him bad. Simply staged on Ultz's red, yellow and green set, Kerry Michael's show pulls off that difficult quality of looking as relaxed, effortless and organic as if it were thrown together yesterday - which means the cast were drilled to perfection. Chat imperceptibly expands into a musical number, strolling shimmies into a full-blown snake-hipped jive, and a meeting with the minister is just an excuse for an exultant gospel choir to let rip... With such numbers as You Can Get It If You Really Want, The Harder They Come and Higher And Higher to lift you, and poignant ballads Many Rivers To Cross and Rivers Of Babylon to make you weep, even the most uptight will besinging and swaying to the rhythms." The Mail on Sunday
The Harder They Come in London at the Playhouse Theatre previewed from 23 May 2008, opened on 9 June 2008 and closed on 13 September 2008.