Old Vic announces Just For One Day, a new musical telling the story of Live Aid

LIVE AID at Wembley Stadium London 13 July 1985 (Pictorial Press Ltd/ Alamy Stock Photo)
LIVE AID at Wembley Stadium London 13 July 1985 (Pictorial Press Ltd/ Alamy Stock Photo)

The Old Vic has just announced that it will be premiering a new musical, Just For One Day, in January.

The musical will retell the story of Live Aid, the July 13 1985 benefit concerts which were organised by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure to raise money for the Ethiopian famine that would claim the lives of as many as one million people. The play will transport audiences back to that astonishing day, conjuring up the atmosphere of political unrest and social revolution, and conveying just how momentus it really was, with as many as 1.5 billion people tuning in to support the cause.

“From seeing Just For One Day throughout its development, if this musical encourages just one person to have a positive impact for the better, then it will be a job well done,” said Geldof. “I’m looking forward to seeing it at The Old Vic... it better not be shit!”

Just For One Day promises to be excellent: the book has been written by John O’Farrell, who co-wrote the celebrated musicals Mrs Doubtfire and Something Rotten, and has been directed by Luke Sheppard, who recently directed Olivier award-winning play &Juliet at the Shaftesbury Theatre. Sheppard’s credits also include the award-winning musical In The Heights (Kings Cross Theatre, 2017) and The Little Big Things (@sohoplace, 2023).

The musical will feature many of the best-loved songs from the 70 acts who played at the two humongous Eighties concerts (in London’s Wembley Stadium and Philadelphia’s John F. Kennedy Stadium), including tracks from David Bowie, The Who, U2, Queen, The Police, Elton John and Paul McCartney. These songs have been arranged by composer Matthew Brind, whose orchestra work has included English National Opera, BBC Concert Orchestra, and BBC Philharmonic Orchestra.

“I had the pleasure of working with Luke Sheppard on Matilda The Musical and I have always admired the witty brilliance of John O’Farrell’s writing – I am thrilled to have these two great forces uniting on The Old Vic stage alongside an excellently talented company,” said Matthew Warchus, the artistic director of The Old Vic.

“We all remember where we watched Live Aid, who we watched it with, and the pure amazement at the feat that was unfolding before our eyes. It’s these memories and individual stories that are the beating heart of Just For One Day, and I can’t wait for audiences to share in a moment that galvanised the globe once again.”

The cast of the upcoming production includes Julie Atherton ( Avenue Q), Ashley Campbell (Fame: The Musical), Jackie Clune (Emilia), Craige Els (Ripper Street), James Hameed (Spamilton), Naomi Katiyo (Holy City), Hope Kenna (Wendy & Peter Pan), Freddie Love (Gatsby: The Musical), Emily Ooi (Legally Blonde, Imperial College Union) and Rhys Wilkinson (& Juliet).

The creative team includes choreography from Ebony Molina (whose credits include associate directing Bugsy Malone, Lyric Hammersmith), set by Soutra Gilmour (Melly Still’s My Brilliant Friend), costume from Fay Fullerton (who worked at Royal Opera House for 46 years), lighting from Howard Hudson (& Juliet), sound design from Gareth Owen (Back to the Future on Broadway and in London), and video and animation from Andrzej Goulding (Miss Saigon at the Sheffield Crucible).

How do I get tickets?

Priority tickets will go on sale for Old Vic members starting from October 2 at 12 noon, here.

General sale tickets will go on sale from October 6 from 12 noon here.

Ten per cent of all ticket sales will be going to The Band Aid Charitable Trust, which works to support organisations across Africa that are trying to prevent or relieve poverty and famine. The Old Vic will also be offering free tickets and workshops to 79 school and community groups.

Just For One Day, January 26 to March 30, 2024; oldvictheatre.com