Starring Olivier Award-winning Matt Henry (Kinky Boots, The Voice UK finalist) as Sam Cooke.
Before they were icons they were friends
25 February 1964: Cassius Clay is crowned the new heavyweight champion of the world and celebrates with three of his closest friends – activist Malcolm X, American football icon Jim Brown, and soul star Sam Cooke – in a downtown Miami motel room.
That much we know is true. What follows is an imagined account of a fabled real-life event.
Kemp Powers’ tough talking, in-your-face drama speculates on what might have happened in that room that night. Over music, whiskey and two tubs of vanilla ice cream, the men wrangle with the change that’s gonna come. What will emerge are four legends that would define an era.
Directed by Matthew Xia (previously Manchester Royal Exchange Associate Artistic Director and director of Wish List and Frankenstein), One Night in Miami… is a play about prejudice and brotherhood, and asks us: on which side of the fence do we stand when hard choices need to be made?
One Night in Miami… received its theatrical stage premiere in the UK at the Donmar Warehouse on Tuesday 11 October 2016.
[Cassius Clay is] tremendously embodied by Conor Glean… Christopher Colquhoun’s Malcolm is a convincing mix of piety, menace and insecurity… Matt Henry, as he did in Kinky Boots, catches the eye and ear in every moment.” – The Guardian
“The writing is trenchant yet wonderfully light on its feet… The production is absorbing, evocative and charismatically performed.” – The Times (behind paywall)
★★★★ “Matthew Xia’s production crackles and smoulders… Four nuanced, banter-fuelled performances keep the audience hooked.” – Metro
★★★★ “The ensemble cast is superb, with real chemistry and an excellent sense of balance… A standout performance from Kinky Boots star Matt Henry.” – The Stage
“The acting is excellent… The themes are timeless and tireless… The actuality of this gathering is worthy of celebration… These virtues, alone, merit our attendance.” – Theatreworld Internet magazine
★★★★ “Matt Henry understandably stands out as [Sam] Cooke… Neatly directed by Matthew Xia, this revival asks pertinent questions about societal change and how to achieve it.” – Broadway World
“An engaging, entertaining play but what raises it right to the top are the convincing character portraits proffered by the four principals.” – Jildy Sauce
“A gripping drama of discussions, debates, and songs, with words batted back and forth like a battered and bruised tennis ball being struck by Wimbledon champions… Pertinent, powerful and relevant… The performances are so terrific that you really believe you are watching these enigmatic men chew the fat.” – I Love Manchester
“Kemp Powers captures the occasionally exasperated banter between friends beautifully… The acting is of a uniformly high standard.” – British Theatre Guide
“Director Matthew Xia and [writer] Kemp Powers give Matt Henry (a musical Olivier-award winner) full licence to strut his stuff as the legendary soul singer. The actor doesn’t let them, or us, down – he delivers knockout performances of ‘You Send Me’ and ‘Bring It On Home’.” – Weekend Notes
“We will never know exactly what happened that night but Kemp Powers has cleverly chosen that point in history to throw light on not only the past but also shine a light on the present… Matt Henry is super as Sam Cooke and virtually steals every scene he is in.” – Caught in the Act
“The characters are vividly portrayed by the cast with fervour and passion… As the play draws to a close and he tries out his new song ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’, [Matt] Henry is simply sublime. Director Matthew Xia creates a moment when it truly feels like witnessing something intensely personal and genuinely moving as though we too are hearing this musical masterpiece for the very first time.” – Live Art Alive
“An intense play that draws the audience into the world created by the actors and production team… With so much depth and passion displayed and developed, it leaves me reeling and reliving it for days afterwards.” – Emma Reviews
“There are no flies in Nottingham Playhouse’s most exemplary production of Kemp Powers’ powerful play… Exciting, wryly funny, totally involving and poignant in its reflections… As far as high quality theatre goes, One Night In Miami… has it all.” – East Midlands Theatre
“The detailed set acts as a crucible for four massive personalities.” – Come to the Pedlar
“one of the most engaging pieces of theatre I have seen for a long time… The script is beautifully written and the direction is spot-on… An incredibly moving play… I defy anyone not to have an emotional reaction to this show.” – Lightscameraanda9to5
★★★★★ “An entertaining evening… This play will not disappoint… All members of this six-strong cast give a stunning, energetic and emotionally connected performance.” – A Younger Theatre
★★★★ “[A] rich and fascinating play… Kemp Powers imagines the conversations that might have taken place that night, fuelled by nothing more stimulating than vanilla ice-cream.” – The Independent
★★★★ “[An] eloquent imagining of a meeting between four iconic figures… A play about men whose stories matter because the things they hoped for have not yet come to pass.” – The Stage
“[Kemp] Powers’ funny, agile dialogue keeps things moving at an athletic pace… As [Sam] Cooke’s song ‘A Change is Gonna Come’ rings out towards the end, you can only hope that the song’s title is still true.” – What’s On Stage
“Gripping… [Kemp] Powers’ dialogue is lyrical and layered with meaning… A skilfully crafted snapshot that reveals a pivotal moment in the history of the Black Power movement.” – Exeunt
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