London's The Old Vic will give the new musical Sylvia its world premiere, running January 27–April 1, 2023, with opening night set for February 14. With a book by Kate Prince with Priya Parmar, music by Josh Cohen and DJ Walde, and lyrics by Prince, the work follows feminist activist Sylvia Pankhurst and her work with the women's suffrage movement.
Beverley Knight (The Bodyguard, The Drifters Girl) will lead the cast as Emmeline Pankhurst, alongside Sharon Rose as Sylvia Pankhurst.
Also in the cast are Kelly Agbowu as Mrs Drummond/Mrs Savoy, Verity Blyth as Clementine Churchill/Mrs Scurr, Kimmy Edwards as Emily Davison/Lillie Hardie/Mrs Watkins, Alex Gaumond as Keir Hardie, Jade Hackett as Lady Jennie Churchill/Mrs Payne, Todd Holdsworth as Silvio Corio, Stevie Hutchinson as Lloyd George/Lord Curzon, Kate Ivory Jordan as Mrs Parsons, Hannah Khemoh as Understudy Emmeline Pankhurst, Jaye Marshall as Ensemble, Razak Osman as Harry Pankhurst/Sir Almroth Wright, Jay Perry as Winston Churchill/George Lansbury, Sharon Rose as Sylvia Pankhurst, Kirstie Skivington as Adela Pankhurst and Ellena Vincent as Christabel Pankhurst. Additional parts will be played by members of the company and further casting to be announced.
The production will be directed and choreographed by Prince, with scenic and costume design by Ben Stones, lighting by Natasha Chivers, sound by Tony Gayle, video and animation by Andrzej Goulding, and wigs, hair, and makeup by Cynthia de la Rosa. Mark Dickman and Leonn Meade are co-music supervisors, and casting is by Stuart Burt and Oliver Scullion, with Lolita Chakrabarti serving as dramaturg. Cohen and DJ Walde are music producers, with Sean Green serving as music director.
Sylvia features additional music by Prince and additional lyrics by Tachia Newall. Knight is also a creative consultant on the project.
The work first played The Old Vic in 2018 as a work-in-progress, also with Knight starring. The 2023 run is being co-presented by The Old Vic and ZooNation: The Kate Prince Company, in association with Sadler's Wells.
"At long last, we are delighted to deliver the completed version of this hugely uplifting show, which first appeared at The Old Vic in an embryonic workshop version four years ago," shares Old Vic Artistic Director Matthew Warchus. "Even then, this thrillingly kinetic, fun, and emotional show was a giant hit with audiences and I’d urge you not to miss the much-anticipated finished article."
"As ZooNation celebrates our 20th anniversary this month, I’m incredibly grateful to be able to announce, together with The Old Vic, the premiere of our musical Sylvia, celebrating the story of Sylvia Pankhurst and the Suffragette movement—five years after I first started writing it, and four years after it was first shared with audiences as a ‘work in progress’. I’m particularly grateful for this second chance and to be able to finish what has been the most extraordinary creative challenge yet of my life! I’m over the moon that Beverley Knight is returning to the role of Emmeline Pankhurst and that Sharon Rose will be joining the cast as her daughter Sylvia. The musicians, performers and creatives collaborating together on Sylvia are all extraordinary. They inspire me every day. I’m truly excited to finally share this work and Sylvia’s wonderful, inspiring story," adds Prince.