Creative Director Corey Campbell, interim CEO Neil Murray, and the whole team at the Belgrade Theatre Coventry have reveal that casting has been announced for ‘Play On!’, a co-production with Talawa Theatre Company, that will open at the Belgrade Theatre 23 September – 5 October, with a national press night on Thursday 26 September, ahead of a UK tour.  

This stylish jazz musical, a contemporary retelling of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, will be directed by Talawa’s Artistic Director Michael Buffong, fusing the thrilling music of Duke Ellington and street dance choreography. The show is conceived by Sheldon Epps, with a book by Cheryl L. West.   

The cast will be Tsemaye Bob-Egbe (SIX The Musical and TINA: The Tina Turner Musical, West End) as ‘Viola’, who sets forth to make a name for herself in the New York jazz scene. ‘Lady Liv’ is played by Kori “Koko” Hedgemon (Lovin’ Vegas and We Are One, Carnival Cruise Line; Hairspray, Pratville Theatre), the star singer at The Cotton Club. 

The club’s world-famous song writer ‘The Duke’ is played by Earl Gregory (TINA: The Tina Turner Musical, West End; Kinky Boots, The Fugard Theatre). Making up the cast are Llewellyn Jamal (TINA: The Tina Turner Musical, and Get Up, Stand Up!, West End) as ‘Jester’; Cameron Bernard Jones (Ain’t Too Proud, Prince Edward Theatre; The Burnt City, Punchdrunk; The Wiz, Hope Mill Theatre) as Rev; Lifford Shillingford (Britain’s Got Talent, ITV; Tarantino Live, Riverside Studios) as ‘Sweets’; Tanya Edwards (Sister Act The Musical, UK tour) as ‘Miss Mary’; and Gleanne Purcell-Brown (Living, Lionsgate UK; Curtains, West End; Spamalot, UK tour) as’ Ceecee’.   

The ensemble will be Natalia Brown (Sister Act The Musical, West End); Freya Karlettis (Sleeping Beauty, Ipswich Regent Theatre; Hairspray, Royal Caribbean Cruises); Amber Cayasso (The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, Bridge Theatre); Jarnéia Richard-Noel (SIX The Musical, West End; Madagascar The Musical, UK tour); Andre Coulson (Five Guys Named Moe, The Gatehouse Theatre; To The Streets!, China Plate/Birmingham Hippodrome); Alex Okoampa (TINA: The Tina Turner Musical, West End; Motown The Musical, UK tour; The Five, Sky); Spin (Sinatra, Birmingham Rep; We Will Rock You, UK tour); and Dylan Blake-Colbet in his stage debut. Casting by Pearson Casting CDG 

Play On! is directed by Talawa’s Artistic Director Michael Buffong (A Kind of People, Royal Court; Guys and Dolls, Royal Exchange, Manchester); Kenrick Sandy (Artistic Associate, Barbican; Boy Blue; Free Your Mind, Aviva Studios) is the Choreographer; and Liam Godwin (The Big Life, Theatre Royal Stratford East; West End Musical Christmas, Adelphi Theatre; Bat Boy, London Palladium) is the Musical Supervisor.  

After opening at the Belgrade Theatre, Play On! will tour Liverpool Playhouse, Salisbury Playhouse, Birmingham Hippodrome, Bristol Old Vic, and Lyric Hammersmith Theatre from September 2024 – February 2025.  Play On! is produced by Talawa Theatre Company and Belgrade Theatre, Coventry in partnership with J Clare Productions and Chuchu Nwagu Productions, with co-producers Birmingham Hippodrome; Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse Theatres; Lyric Hammersmith Theatre; and Wiltshire Creative, Salisbury. 

Talawa and partners are proud that Play On! will provide opportunities for mid-career global majority talent to work on a large-scale production and tour. In line with Talawa’s commitment to platforming African and Carribean diaspora actors and creatives, the season’s Associate Programme and seed commissions address under-representation in the sector.  

The partners are committed to supporting Black artists to create theatre across the country. Play On! is at the heart of Talawa’s 2024 Black Joy season, which is generously supported by Arts Council England and National Lottery.