Jazz story told in Cafe Society Swing at Theatre Royal Stratford East


Boasting a stellar international cast, Cafe Society Swing comes to the historic Theatre Royal Stratford East, telling the story of the first racially-desegregated jazz club in New York which opened in Greenwich Village 80 years ago.

Full of swinging jazz, blues, gospel and bebop, Cafe Society Swing stars vocalists China Moses, Vimala Rowe and Ciyo Brown and, making her London stage debut, Judi Jackson, plus an eight-piece band directed by the show’s author, pianist Alex Webb.

From 1938 to 1949 Cafe Society played host to some of the finest musical talent of the 20th century, including Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, Sarah Vaughan and Count Basie. 

Billie Holiday was one of the first headliners at the club and it was at Cafe Society that club owner Barney Josephson presented her with the classic protest lyric Strange Fruit – which became her signature song. 

Cafe Society Swing follows the venue’s thrilling struggles and triumphs to its eventual demise in America’s ‘Red Scare’ of the late 1940s. 

The show features the Cafe Society All Stars – an eight-piece band consisting the cream of UK jazz musicians, led by Alex Webb (piano, MD) with Dave Bitelli (tenor sax), Tony Kofi (alto), Nathaniel Cross(trombone), Sue Richardson (trumpet), Ciyo Brown (guitar), Miles Danso (bass) and Andy Chapman (drums).
Cafe Society Swing was originally commissioned by the London Jazz Festival and has since played runs at the Tricycle Theatre, the Leicester Square Theatre, 59E59 Theaters in New York, as well as appearing at the Scarborough Jazz Festival, the Aldeburgh Proms and the Gateshead International Jazz Festival.

Directed by Christian Durham, Cafe Society Swing runs at Theatre Royal Stratford East from June 5 – 16.

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