Side Man

Previewed 17 February 2000, Opened 28 February 2000, Closed 10 June 2000 at the Apollo Theatre in London

The long awaited transfer of the Tony Award-winning Broadway production of Warren Leight's play Side Man in London starring Jeson Priestly.

Set in New York, Side Man is about jazz musicians from their heyday in the 1950's to their dark years in the 1980's. This covered the period when many great musicians had to cobble together a mix of club dates, unemployment cheques and cash gigs to make a living. These musicians, known as sidemen, and their families made great sacrifices to serve their passion for music. The play includes jazz classics by Roy Eldridge, Miles Davies, Clifford Brown, Lee Morgan, Donald Byrd, Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington.

The cast features Jason Priestley along with Broadway cast members Edie Falco, Frank Wood, Jeff Binder, Kevin Geer, Michael Mastro and Angelica Torn. Directed by Michael Mayer.

Jason Priestly starred in the television series Beverly Hill 90210 and starred opposite John Hurt in the film Love and Death on Long Island. Edie Falco won an Emmy Award for her role in the television series The Sopranos and Frank Wood won a Tony Award for his role in Side Man in New York.

"If you think jazz music sounds like a brass band falling down a staircase, then this might convert you. Warren Leight's play is a valentine to the big band jazz era that Elvis kiled off... it is eminently watchable and the music is just sensational... It works best when it's a light comic portrait of a bunch of close-knit jazzmen with an allergy to daylight. They're a riot in beige polyester. There's womanising Al, the junkie Jonesy, and best of all, nerdy Ziggy with a lisp like Tweetie Pie, played by Michael Mastro. There's even a gum-snapping waitress who drip feeds them booze and soup. Above all, you get a fine performance of absolute understatement from Frank Wood as the man with the magic lips. A must for all jazz and horn freaks..." The Daily Express

"Jason Priestley, heart-throb soap star of Beverly Hills 90210, made a most impressive and touching London stage debut last night, braving the boards after ten years in television. He leads a cast of superb American actors... Side Man was a surprise, but deserving, Tony award-winner last season. A haunting funny and deeply moving memory play about growing up among New York jazz players, it's obviously autobiographical. It is like Eugene O'Neill with jazz standards and lusty jokes such as: 'Some guys couldn't swing if you hung'em.' Priestley plays young Clifford, between 1953 and 1985... His father, Gene (Frank Wood), is a side man, a freelance trumpeter playing with Frank Sinatra, Woody Herman and Miles Davis. But Elvis is on his way and the bands are disbanding. His mother, Terry (the wonderful Edle Falco, Carmela in The Sopranos), is a rapid-talking alcoholic psychotic whose disintegration hangs over the second act like a dark cloud. At one point the jazzmen listen in shell-shocked wonder to the last, miraculous recording of trumpeter Clifford Brown (1930-1956), pirated on the day of his death. Clifford's his namesake, forging another hook in the reality cheek of the play's fascinating scenario. These men, a tear-stained Clifford remarks, played not for fame, not for money, but for each other. Their personal lives were a mess. They were enslaved by an addictive, booze-sodden lifestyle, burning brass through the heyday and decline of a great musical era. Side Man is both a lovely lament and a glorious celebration. It is a pleasure to welcome it to London." The Daily Mail

Side Man in London at the Apollo Theatre previewed from 17 February 2000, opened on 28 February 2000 and closed on 10 June 2000