With an all-star cast, this must-see show tells the true story of Cafe Society - the first racially integrated jazz club in New York.
★★★★ 'Fabulous.' Financial Times
★★★★ 'A genuine treat.' The Times
'A balm for the soul.' The New York Times Critic's Pick
This acclaimed show tells the true story of Cafe Society - the first racially integrated jazz club in New York.
Opening in December 1938, the club was one of the first American venues to treat the great black artists of the era with dignity and respect and was the launch pad for legendary jazz stars Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, Sarah Vaughan and many more.
Full of swinging jazz, blues, gospel and bebop, Cafe Society Swing follows the venue’s struggles and triumphs to its eventual demise in America’s ‘Red Scare’ of the late 1940s.
Boasting a stellar international cast including Ciyo Brown, China Moses, Vimala Rowe, Judi Jackson and Peter Gerald this must-see production plays at Theatre Royal Stratford East for just two weeks.
Written by Alex Webb
Directed by Christian Durham
Time: 7.30pm (matinee Sat 9 & 16 Jun, 2.30pm)
Price: From £10
Runtime: 2 hours 10 minutes including interval
Age Guidance: Suitable for all ages
Concessions: Available at many performances for children and under 26s. If you can’t attend a show without the support of a companion or carer, you can get a companion ticket free of charge – click here for details.
Our ticket prices increase as the theatre fills. We always recommend booking early to secure the best seats at the best price.
Produced by Lateralize Ltd in association with the Copasetic Foundation. Media Partner Jazz FM.
PHOTO: IDIL SUKAN
Writer, MD and Piano - Alex Webb
Director - Christian Durham
Tenor Sax - Dave Bitelli
Alto Sax - Tony Kofi
Trombone - Nathaniel Cross
Trumpet - Sue Richardson
Guitar - Ciyo Brown
Bass - Miles Danso
Drums - Andy Chapman
Born in Jamaica, Ciyo arrived in England at the age of eight months and was taught to play the guitar at nine by his father. He has worked with an astonishing range of international artists including Suggs, Paul Weller, Annie Lennox, Ronnie Laws, Billie Paul, YolanDa Brown, Jazz Warriors, Sugar Minott, Dennis Bovell, Pee Wee Ellis, Sly and Robbie, Steel Pulse, Aswad, Carroll Thompson and Carleen Anderson. He has pioneered fusions of jazz and reggae, released six albums under his own name, and as if that were not enough, is a Law and HR Lecturer and Fellow of the Institute of Legal Executives specialising in housing law.
Vocalist, singer-songwriter, actor and radio and TV presenter China Moses was born in the USA but brought up in France. She released her first single at the age of 18, followed by three albums in the soul/R&B area. After presenting for MTV France and Canal+ she started working in jazz, creating with pianist Raphaël Lemonnier the show Gardenias for Dinah [Washington] and the Blue Note album This One’s for Dinah. She has since recorded the albums Crazy Blues and Nightintales and tours continuously; in addition she appeared in the original Cafe Society Swing production in London in 2012 and in the same year co-presented and sang at the first UNESCO International Jazz Day in Paris.
From her training in Hindustani classical music in India to World Music, Soul and effortlessly swinging jazz, award-winning singer Vimala Rowe has rapidly become recognised as a major talent on the British jazz scene. Performing at Ronnie Scott’s, the Pizza Express, the London Jazz Festival and countrywide, she has delighted audiences with her passion, delivery and enormous range of expression. Her 2016 duo album of mixed genre and original songs Out Of The Sky with legendary guitarist John Etheridge was a top 10 critics’ choice in both The Guardian and The Sunday Times. Vimala co-composed a work with Flamenco supremo Paco Peña performing at Sadler’s Wells in 2015 and 2017. She is a long-standing member of Cafe Society Swing as well as Alex Webb’s Charlie Parker On Dial show.
Judi Jackson is a multi-talented vocalist from Roanoke, Virginia. Judi has performed on a variety of stages with a myriad of world-class talents. Introduced to the world of music through the Jefferson Center's Music Lab, Judi spent her early years immersed in a school for young artists and musicians to learn, practice, and perform their talents. At the age of 14 Judi was fortunate enough to meet Wynton Marsalis at the Jefferson Center performance hall after a show. He sent her a box of music the following Christmas that became the seed of inspiration for her development as a jazz vocalist. She began listening to and studying the sounds of Blossom Dearie, Billie Holliday, Sarah Vaughn, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, and Mahalia Jackson, amongst many other greats. Judi has shared the stage with Snarky Puppy, and recorded her original piece, “Only Love”, last spring with the Grammy award winning group.
Theatre credits include The Hypochondriac, The Shoemaker's Holiday, The Life of Gallileo, The Mayor of Zalamea, The Oresteia (National Theatre), Little Shop of Horrors (Comedy Theatre), Les Misérables (Palace Theatre), Oliver! (National Tour and Toronto), Godspell (National Tour), Assassins (Derby Theatre), The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole (Mercury Theatre Colchester), The Hobbit (Lyric Hammersmith), Houdini (National Tour), Chicken Soup With Barley (New End), The Merchant of Venice (Litchfield), Kitty and Damnation, A Christmas Carol (Lion and Unicorn Theatre, Best Actor Nominee Off West End Awards) (Giant Olive), Dreamboats and Petticoats (National Tour). His television includes Playacting, The Oresteia, I Remember Nelson, Iran - Guarding The Revolution; and for film, Je Suis Daddy, Genes, Ice, Lurk and Malefaction.
Alex Webb is a songwriter, arranger and pianist whose songs have been performed by many UK and international jazz artists. He has also created and produced a series of words-and-music shows including Strayhorn the Songwriter, Charlie Parker on Dial, Fever: Jo Harrop sings Peggy Lee and Cafe Society Swing, which has enjoyed theatre runs in London and New York where it won a New York Times ‘Critic’s Pick’. In 2017 he co-composed and produced the musical Stormy: The Life of Lena Horne with actor/writer Camilla Beeput. He has also worked in music radio, music publishing, at live music venues and as a news and features journalist.
Christian Durham is a theatre director with an international career that includes London’s fringe, UK regional touring, and Resident and Associate direction of many West End shows including Chicago, Taboo, Zorro and Guys and Dolls.