The Harder They Come – see the movie before the play…

From Press Release

The stage musical The Harder They Come is written by Perry Henzell and is based on his famous film that took the world by storm back in the 1970s.  A screening of this movie is taking place this Saturday.


When the motion picture version of The Harder They Come premiered in Kingston, Jamaica in 1972, the crowd at the door was so big that even Jimmy Cliff, the film’s star, couldn’t get in. The prime minister’s wife had to be carried over the heads of the mob. By the time the film arrived at film festivals around the world, it was already a sensation, bringing with it a sound – reggae – that revolutionized popular music.

In Canada and the U.S., The Harder They Come became one of the first cult films, playing in cinemas for months at a time – and then for years more as a midnight-screening phenomenon.

In anticipation of the North American premiere of the musical at the Canon Theatre, a newly struck 35mm print of Henzell’s film The Harder They Come will screen at the Bloor Cinema, 506 Bloor Street West (at Bathurst) for one night only.   Saturday, June 27th, at 9:30 p.m.  All tickets are $5 and may be purchased in advance via  The film is rated 14A.

Watch it in preparation for the North American Premier of the stage show…



David Mirvish presents the Theatre Royal Stratford East and UK Arts production of the smash hit musical THE HARDER THEY COME, by Perry Henzell, at the Canon Theatre for a strictly limited engagement, July 21 through August 23, 2009 (Media night Thursday, July 23).  Tickets go on sale Saturday, June 13. 

Based on the iconic 1972 film by Perry Henzell that launched Jimmy Cliff and reggae music onto the world stage, this exhilarating musical tells the story of Ivanhoe Martin (played by the superb Rolan Bell), a country boy who makes for the bright lights of Kingston, Jamaica.  With a head full of songs, including You Can Get it if You Really Want, Many Rivers To Cross, Higher and Higher, Rivers of Babylon and The Harder They Come, he dreams of becoming a reggae star.  When the harsh reality of the music scene drives him into a fast and furious life as an outlaw, he would rather die than kill his dream.

This new musical production by the esteemed Theatre Royal Stratford East in London, England, is staged in the spare, Brechtian style for which the company has become internationally famed. The performers, almost all of Jamaican descent, tell this cautionary tale with a passion that energizes the audience as only few shows have ever done. 

When the production first opened, it was loudly acclaimed by both critics and audiences. It transferred to the prestigious Barbican Bite Festival, but the demand for tickets was so high that it was moved again, to London’s West End.  Toronto is the first stop on an international tour.

“A superb production that faithfully captures not just the movie’s music and characters, but also, its soul” – Evening Standard

“Astonishing! Scorching! Swaggering!” – The Guardian

“Irresistible! Thrilling! Tremendous!” – The Telegraph

“Exuberant! Extraordinary! You’ll want to see it again and again!” – Daily Mail

THE HARDER THEY COME stars: Delroy Atkinson, Rolan Bell, Cavin Cornwall, Jacqui Dubois, Derek Elroy, Victor Romero Evans, Joanna Francis, Lain Gray, Zalika King,  Joy Mack, Matthew Newtion, Kirk Patterson, Marcus Powell, Susan Lawson Reynolds, Simone Richards and Chris Tummings.

The book is by Perry Henzell, direction by Kerry Michael and Dawn Reid, original costume design by Sally Henzell, choreography by Jackie Guy, lighting design by Jo Joelson and sound design by Stefan Lumsden. The score includes many of the legendary songs that have defined reggae music, including many of Jimmy Cliff’s international number one hits (You Can Get It If You Really Want, Many Rivers to Cross, The Harder They Come , Sitting in Limbo,  Higher and Higher ), and songs by The Maytals (Pressure Drop, Sweet and Dandy), The Melodians (Rivers of Babylon ) and other great, pioneer Jamaican artists.

THE HARDER THEY COME is the first show of the 2009-10 Mirvish Subscription season. Air Canada is the presenting Season Sponsor.


CANON THEATRE, 244 Victoria Street

Performance Schedule: Tuesday to Saturday at 8:00 PM; Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 2:00PM

Tickets $25.00 to $95.00

AT EACH PERFORMANCE THERE WILL BE 300 SEATS AVAILABLE IN THE MEZZANINE AT $25.00 (weekday performances) and $30.00 (weekend performances)

Available online at or by calling TicketKing at 416-872-1212 or 1-800-461-3333

or in person at the Box Office Theatre Groups call 416-593-4142 or 1-800-724-6420