Hackney Empire, in co-production with London Musical Theatre Orchestra, will presents a special concert version of musical KING, marking 50 years since the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr and 30 years since the first performance of the late Martin Smith’s acclaimed show.
Appearing in KING, being staged for two performances on Saturday 30 June and Sunday 1 July 2018, will be a cast of West End stars including Cedric Neal (Motown the Musical, Chess) as Martin Luther King Jr., Sharon D. Clarke (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Caroline, or Change) as Alberta King and Debbie Kurup (The Bodyguard, Girl from the North Country) as Coretta King. Joining them is the London Musical Theatre Orchestra conducted by Freddie Tapner, who return to Hackney Empire following the success of Mack & Mabel last year. KING is directed by Susie McKenna with new orchestrations by Simon Nathan. The concert will feature Hackney Empire’s renowned Community Choir.
Martin Luther King Jr knew he would marry Coretta Scott from their very first meeting. Over the course of their marriage, alongside their brothers and sisters within the movement, they fought for the rights of African American people in a divided United States. KING tells the story of their life together, and the strides, successes and sacrifices of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement that saw them change the course of history.
Since its inception two years ago, LMTO has performed eight public concerts to sold-out houses and critical acclaim. LMTO founder and conductor, Freddie Tapner, says:
“It is a great privilege to be partnering with Hackney Empire on this project. Now feels like just the right time to be presenting this astonishingly powerful work, and with brand new orchestrations by Simon Nathan, I cannot wait to hear Martin Smith’s score come to life again for the first time in 30 years.”
Susie McKenna has written and directed Hackney Empire pantomimes since 1998 becoming creative director there from 2010-2017. Other credits at Hackney Empire include Once on this Island, A Midsummer Night’s Madness and Ha Ha Hackney. Most recently she directed Oranges and Elephants at Hoxton Hall.
Martin Smith was one of the West End’s brightest musical theatre stars starring in, amongst many others, Something’s Afoot, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The March of the Falsettos, City of Angels and as Che in Evita, as The Phantom in Phantom of the Opera, and was the only actor to play both Marius and Jean Valjean in Les Misérables.
Smith was also a prolific composer with his musical KING being one of his most treasured pieces. It was originally performed as a one-off, semi-staged concert in 1988 at the Prince Edward Theatre. Sadly, Smith never lived long enough to progress his vision further, dying in 1994 at the age of 37.