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Beverley Knight portrays Emmeline Pankhurst in new West End musical

By Tom Oakley | Music | Published:

She was one of the most integral activists and the leader of the British suffragette movement which helped women win the right to vote.

Emmeline Pankhurst will be played by Wolverhampton's stage star Beverley Knight

Now, Wolverhampton's Beverley Knight will play the role of Emmeline Pankhurst in an upcoming musical at London's iconic The Old Vic theatre.

Sylvia, which will celebrate the life of Sylvia Pankhurst and the centenary of the Suffragette movement, will begin at the theatre in September.

And Bev took to Twitter to tell the world she was "well chuffed" about the show and urged her fans to go and see the production.

The show, which has been co-written by Kate Prince and Priya Parmar, will shed a new light on the story of the Suffragette movement – 100 years after the first women in Britain were granted the vote.

The theatre is also preparing to turn 200 this year.

Casting for the show was revealed by The Old Vic this week and featuring alongside Beverley will be John Dagleish who will play campaigner Keir Hardie, Carly Bawden who plays Adela Pankhurt and Delroy Atkinson who plays Winston Churchill.

It will combine dance, hip hop, soul and funk to tell the story of the Pankhursts at the centre of the movement to give women the vote.

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The cast of the production also includes Verity Blyth, Jade Hackett, Todd Holdsworth, Izuka Hoyle, Genesis Lynea, Jaye Marshall, Tachia Newall, Maria Omakinwa, Karl Queensborough, Ross Sands, Witney White and Elliotte Williams-N’Dure.

Director-choreographer Ms Prince, whose company ZooNation will produce the piece, said: "Politics and families are a tricky combination, and in the case of the Pankhursts, it severed ties between them.

"Ultimately we are telling the story of the price each of the Pankhurst family paid for their political purpose."

The Old Vic

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Beverley previously earned an Olivier Award nomination for her role in Memphis the Musical at the Shaftesbury Theatre, and has previously appeared in Cats at the London Palladium and The Bodyguard at the Dominion Theatre.

It comes after the soul star received the Freedom of Wolverhampton earlier this month. She was honoured for her services to the city and public relations at a specially-arranged civic function.

Artistic director Matthew Warchus added: "The Old Vic turns 200 this year and was originally established by two brilliantly tenacious and visionary women – Emma Cons and Lilian Baylis - so it is particularly gratifying to be celebrating Sylvia Pankhurst’s world-changing achievements in the advancement of democracy and equality during this anniversary."

Beverley Knight performing earlier this year

In March, Sylvia took to the stage at Trafalgar Square to welcome the 5,000 women and men who marched from the Houses of Parliament in support of gender equality.

Sylvia is at The Old Vic from September 3 to 22 and tickets are available now. The premiere will take place on September 11.

Tickets are priced between £12 and £45 – with the show recommended for people aged ten and above.

For more information go to The Old Vic website at www.oldvictheatre.com

Tom Oakley

By Tom Oakley
Trainee Multi-Media Journalist

Express & Star reporter responsible for covering Walsall and Staffordshire. Got a story? Email tom.oakley@expressandstar.co.uk or call 01902 319482.

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