Back in July 1985, the world’s most famous concert took place. Over 160,000 people attended across two stadiums – Wembley Stadium in London and JFK Stadium in Philadelphia – while an estimated 1.5 billion people tuned in to the broadcast from 150 countries across the globe. We’re talking about Live Aid, of course. The monumental gig is being turned into a stage musical – and here’s everything we know so far.
Just For One Day: The Live Aid Musical
Organised by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, Live Aid was a benefit concert staged to raise funds for Ethiopian famine relief. It featured dozens of acts – including Queen, Sting, U2, Dire Straits, The Who, David Bowie, Elvis Costello, and Elton John – and stretched a mammoth 16 hours, and Queen’s appearance is considered not only their greatest performance, but the greatest performance of all time.
Live Aid’s memory has been maintained by gushing word of mouth memories and frequently screened clips, and now by a musical at London’s Old Vic theatre with Geldof’s seal of approval. John O’Farrel (the man behind the Mrs Doubtfire musical) and Luke Sheppard (the director of & Juliet) have joined forces to transform the legendary concert into a musical fit for the stage. The duo approached Geldof with their idea, saying ‘“we know you are going to say no, but we want to do it because our dads have never stopped talking about this day. And we think it’s theatre”, Geldof tells the BBC. The musical is being made with the full permission of the Band Aid Charitable Trust, which will receive 10 percent of every ticket sale. Plus, Geldof and other trustees attended workshops before granting the go-ahead.
‘We were blown away,’ Geldof says. ‘I have to say there was not a dry eye in the house.’
View this post on Instagram
What Will The Live Aid Musical Be About?
‘Political unrest, social revolution, boom and bust. In a decade of neon and noise, one moment made the world stand still and brought 1.5 billion people together – and they all have a story to tell about “the day rock ‘n’ roll changed the world”,’ the Old Vic describes.
The Live Aid musical won’t be a karaoke style rendition of everyone’s favourite songs, but an in depth look behind the scenes at how the concert came together – including a love story plot inspired by real events. But don’t worry: taking its name, Just For One Day, from Bowie’s song ‘Heroes’, a plethora of iconic songs performed on the 1985 day will definitely feature, too.
Don’t expect a tribute act, Geldof tells the BBC: ‘I wouldn’t have anything to do with that,’ he says. ‘So, there isn’t a person dressed up as Freddie wearing a crap moustache. The songs drive the drama along.
The story is based on actual testimony from the day,’ explains Geldof. ‘It’s real people telling their story throughout this. So it’s complex theatre.’
Who Will Star?
The full line up of 26 actors is still to be confirmed, but Geldof will be played by English actor Craige Els.
‘Let me be completely blunt: it’s bad enough being Bob Geldof. It’s slightly worse seeing someone else pretending to be you,’ Geldof tells the BBC. ‘The one upside for me is that he’s got an amazing voice, stage Bob, so that people will think I actually sing as good as that.’
Other confirmed stars include:
- Julie Atherton
- Ashley Campbell
- Jackie Clune
- James Hameed
- Naomi Katiyo
- Hope Kenna
- Freddie Love
- Emily Ooi
- Rhys Wilkinson
26 January–30 March 2024
The Old Vic Theatre, 103 The Cut, London SE1 8NB
Old Vic priority tickets will go on sale from 2 October 2023, with general on sale beginning on 6 October 2023 at noon.
Stay up to date at oldvictheatre.com