Soul, Roy Williams’ new play about the life of Marvin Gaye, gets its première at Northampton’s Royal & Derngate next month.
The theatre’s artistic director, James Dacre, helms the production, which will transfer to London’s Hackney Empire in June.
The co-production stars Nathan Ives-Moiba as Gaye with Adjoa Andoh, Leo Wringer, Petra Letang, Mimi Ndiweni, Keenan Munn-Francis and Abiona Omonua.
On April Fool’s Day 1984, hours before his 45th birthday, Marvin Gaye was shot dead by his father in the shared family home they called the ‘Big House’. What happened there has since been shrouded in mystery.
Revealing the events that took place during Marvin Gaye’s haunting final days and exploring his extraordinary life, Soul is a parable about an American family crushed by fame – a searing portrait of the dark side of the American dream.
Written by award-winning Roy Williams (Sucker Punch, Days of Significance) in close collaboration with members of Marvin Gaye’s family, the play with music will feature Royal & Derngate’s and Hackney Empire’s celebrated community choirs.
Original instrumental music has additionally been composed and recorded for the production by Marvin Gaye’s close musical collaborator Gordon Banks, widely considered to be one of soul music’s great guitarists.
Adjoa Andoh (Invictus, Adulthood, Julius Caesar, RSC) and Leo Wringer (As You Like It, National Theatre; Blackta, Perseverance Drive, Young Vic) play the central roles of Marvin’s parents, Alberta and Marvin Gay Snr.
Rising stars Nathan Ives-Moiba (As You Like It, National Theatre; Our Country’s Good, Out of Joint) and Keenan Munn-Francis (The Scottsboro Boys, The Lion King) play the role of Marvin Gaye as an adult and teenager respectively.
Soul was commissioned by Bob Blagden and Barbara Cole. The play was inspired by Jeanne Gay’s memoir Bitter Sweet, interviews with Jeanne and Zeola Gay amongst many others and further extensive research.
The production is recommended ages 14 and upwards.
Soul runs at the Royal & Derngate, from May 20-June 11 and Hackney Empire June 15-July 3.