Beverley Knight to star as suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst in musical

The musical returns for a limited run from January 27 to April 1 2023.

Beverley Knight
Beverley Knight

Singer and actress Beverly Knight will star as suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst in highly-anticipated musical Sylvia at The Old Vic theatre.

Following its first appearance as a work-in-progress show at the famous London venue 2018, Sylvia will return for a limited run from January 27 to April 1 2023.

The funk, soul and hip-hop musical tells the story of Pankhurst and her daughter Sylvia, played by Sharon Rose.

It was originally commissioned to mark the centenary of the Representation of the People Act 1918 and the end of the First World War, and is produced by ZooNation: The Kate Prince Company.

Writer Prince, who also serves as the show’s director and choreographer, said she was “incredibly grateful” to announce the production’s return, four years after its debut.

Olivier Awards 2019 – London
Knight will star as suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst in new musical Sylvia, at The Old Vic theatre (Ian West/PA)

“I’m particularly grateful for this second chance and to be able to finish what has been the most extraordinary creative challenge yet of my life,” she said.

“I’m over the moon that Beverley Knight is returning to the role of Emmeline Pankhurst and that Sharon Rose will be joining the cast as her daughter Sylvia.

“The musicians, performers and creatives collaborating together on Sylvia are all extraordinary.

“They inspire me every day. I’m truly excited to finally share this work and Sylvia’s wonderful, inspiring story.”

Knight added: “I am so happy to be reprising my role as Emmeline Pankhurst in the utterly brilliant Sylvia.

“The workshop version in 2018 pointed the way to what I believe will be a British musical theatre game-changer, both in the way the story is told through music and movement and in pulling in a different demographic to experience the joys of theatre.”

The singer and musical theatre star released her first album, The B-Funk, in 1995, which was heavily influenced by American soul music icons such as Sam Cooke and Aretha Franklin.

Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games – Closing Ceremony
Originally from Wolverhampton, Knight recently performed at the closing ceremony of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham (PA)

Knight has released eight studio albums in total and is regarded as one of Britain’s greatest soul singers,best known for her hit singles Greatest Day, Get Up!, and Shoulda Woulda Coulda.

She was awarded an MBE for services to British music and charity in 2006, and has won three MOBO Awards.

Originally from Wolverhampton, Knight recently performed at the closing ceremony of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

Joining her in the cast of Sylvia are Kelly Agbowu, as Mrs Drummond/Mrs Savoy, Verity Blyth as Clementine Churchill/Mrs Scurr, Kimmy Edwards as Emily Davison/Lillie Hardie/Mrs Watkins, and Alex Gaumond as Keir Hardie, among others.

Matthew Warchus, artistic director of The Old Vic, said: “At long last, we are delighted to deliver the completed version of this hugely uplifting show, which first appeared at The Old Vic in an embryonic workshop version four years ago.

“Even then, this thrillingly kinetic, fun and emotional show was a giant hit with audiences and I’d urge you not to miss the much-anticipated finished article.”

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