Olivier-nominated play CRUISE will return to the West End for a strictly limited run at the Apollo Theatre this summer from 13 August – 4 September with a press night on 17 August. CRUISE is an urgent, moving and inspirational play written and performed by Jack Holden (Ten Per Cent, Amazon Prime Video; War Horse, National Theatre), directed by Bronagh Lagan (The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, UK Tour; Little Women, Park Theatre), with original music composed and performed live by John Patrick Elliott (The Little Unsaid).
CRUISE was one of the first productions to premiere in the West End when theatres reopened in May 2021 and marked West End debuts for the producers and playwright Jack Holden. The production won widespread acclaim from critics and audiences alike and was nominated for Best New Play at the 2022 Oliviers.
Based on a true story Jack was told whilst volunteering for Switchboard, the LGBTQ+ Listening Service, CRUISE plays tribute to a generation decimated by HIV and AIDs. Bringing to life 1980’s Soho, this kaleidoscopic musical is a celebration of queer culture with an uplifting 80s electronic soundtrack performed live by John Patrick Elliott.
Following CRUISE, Jack Holden went on to play the role of Kevin in Amazon Prime Video’s Ten Percent, a British remake of the French TV series Call My Agent. This autumn he will star alongside Sean Bean and Nicola Walker in Stefan Golazsewski’s Marriage for BBC One. Jack is also collaborating again with composer John Patrick Elliott on a new musical play for Aria Entertainment The Isle which is currently in development. Since CRUISE, John has scored two feature films released this year Three Moons of Biyangdo and Wild Isles and is currently composing new solo work after being awarded the ‘Do It Differently Fund’ from Help Musicians UK. He is also producing a new album with his alt-folk/ electronic band The Little Unsaid, with whom he’ll perform at festivals this summer, including Glastonbury, before an extensive UK tour in October.
‘Rhythm of Us’ an original track from CRUISE is available to listen to here. Written and recorded by John Patrick Elliott, ‘Rhythm of Us’ is a love note to synth-drenched 80s pop and features guest vocals from Jack Holden and Jamie Lambert.
Jack Holden and John Patrick Elliott said:
“We’re ecstatic that CRUISE is coming to the Apollo Theatre for a limited run this Summer. Our first run reopened the West End with a bang. Audiences had been cooped up indoors for a long time, and we all needed a reason to come together, to laugh, to cry and to have a little dance – CRUISE was just that. This incarnation of CRUISE will be bigger, brighter, louder and prouder. We can’t wait to get back on stage, make one hell of a noise, and take our audiences back to 1980s Soho.”
Producer Katy Lipson of Aria Entertainment said:
“To have the opportunity to bring CRUISE back to the West End this summer is an absolute privilege. What a journey we have all been on from a brilliant first run at Duchess Theatre to an Olivier nomination for Best New Play. More audiences will now get to share this powerful and gripping musical drama and be taken back to the 80’s to be immersed in such an important part of history. We can’t wait to arrive at Apollo Theatre and continue our journey.”
Producers Jamie Lambert and Eliza Jackson of Lambert Jackson said:
“CRUISE holds an incredibly special place in our hearts. It’s electric, it’s exciting, and it’s coming to the Apollo Theatre, right in the heart of the historical setting for the play. What an honour to be involved in such an important queer piece of theatre – and to continue to celebrate the show after its well-deserved Olivier Award nomination.”
Nica Burns, Chief Executive Nimax Theatres and producer of Rising Stars Festival said:
“CRUISE was the stand-out star of Nimax’s ground-breaking Rising Stars Festival, which spearheaded the reopening of our six theatres post pandemic. A gem of a play and an incredible writing debut from its star, actor Jack Holden, which went on to win a nomination for Best New Play at the 2022 Olivier Awards. We are absolutely delighted to welcome Jack and his producers back to the West End to give audiences another chance to see this intoxicating evening.”
~ February 29th, 1988. Soho, London. ~
CRUISE is the true story of what should have been Michael Spencer’s last night on Earth. When Michael is diagnosed with HIV in 1984, he’s told he’ll have four years to live – at most. So, with the clock ticking, he and his partner, Dave, decide to sell their house, flog the car, spend everything they have and party like it’s the last days of Rome. When Dave dies two years later, Michael doubles down on his hedonistic ways, spending what little he has left and drowning himself in drink and drugs.
On the last night of his four-year countdown – the 29th February, 1988 – Michael decides to go out with a bang. He puts on his favourite jacket, heads for Soho, and embarks on a long night of farewells. He says his goodbyes to friends, enemies and strangers; old haunts, dive bars, cafes, clubs and pubs; his brothers, sisters, allies and exes. He dances, sings, and says yes to everything and everyone. Then, with all his affairs taken care of, Michael promptly… survives. Michael got lucky, and he goes on to live to a ripe old age. Michael has been given the gift of life; but what kind of life can he now live?
The full creative team includes Jack Holden (writer and performer), John Patrick Elliott (Music and Sound Design), Bronagh Lagan (Director), Nik Corrall (Design), STUFISH Entertainment Architects (Co-Design), Jai Morjaria (Lighting Designer) Sarah Golding (Movement) and Max Pappenheim (Additional Sound Design).