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Broken Wings receives W/E premiere as a semi-staged production at the Theatre Royal Haymarket

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

BROKEN Wings, an autobiographical tale of tragic love based on Lebanese-born poet Kahlil Gibran’s 1912 masterpiece, is to get its West End premiere at the Theatre Royal Haymarket.

This new musical, written by West End star Nadim Naaman (The Phantom of the Opera) and Dana Al Fardan, one of The Middle East’s leading contemporary composers, Broken Wings will be presented as a semi-staged production with 9-piece orchestra from August 1 to August 4, 2018.

New York City, 1923. An ageing Gibran narrates from his cold studio. Through poetry and music, he transports us back two decades and across continents, to turn-of-the-century Beirut. His 18-year-old self returns to The Middle East after five years living in America, to complete his education and discover more of his heritage. He falls deeply in love with Selma Karamy, the daughter of family friend and hugely respected local businessman, Farris Karamy.

However, Selma soon becomes betrothed to Mansour Bey Galib, nephew of the powerful Bishop Bulos Galib, who has his eye on the Karamy family fortune. Gibran and Selma fight to reconcile their love for one another, whilst navigating the rules, traditions and expectations that society lays on them.

Writer Kahlil Gibran, whose seminal work The Prophet was an interational best-seller, remains the third best-selling poet of all time, behind Shakespeare and Laozi. What inspired him to write? And what moved him to such profound philosophy in his later life? The events in Broken Wings highlight key social issues of the time – the fight for gender equality, the freedom to love who we love, tradition versus modernity, wealth versus happiness, immigration and the importance of ‘home’ – yet these themes are increasingly relevant today, over a century later.

Produced by Ali Matar, Broken Wings is directed by Bronagh Lagan, with orchestrations by Joe Davison. Casting has not yet been announced.

Nadim Naaman said: “Kahlil Gibran is the Shakespeare of The Middle East, and the third best-selling poet of all time. His views transcend nationality, politics and background, read by all faiths and all ages. He was spiritual, but wouldn’t dedicate his life to one particular organisation of religion. Instead, he took the best of all faiths, championing humanity, tolerance and love above all else.

“I still can’t believe that the book hasn’t already been adapted for the stage; it is structured like a play, and is awash with musical references. Much like Kahlil Gibran’s life, the creation of this show has been a fusion of both The Middle East and The West, so to be presenting this piece in London, at the stunning Theatre Royal Haymarket, is both fitting and overwhelming.”

Dana Al Fardan said: “Kahlil Gibran felt strongly about the universal language of music, often referring to it as the language of the soul. Our musical aims to offer the audience a deeper understanding of both Gibran’s work and the man behind it. We hope it will be both enjoyable and enlightening.”

A Broken Wings concept album featuring an all-star cast will be released on Thursday, May 10.

The cast is headed by Rob Houchen (Les Misérables, Titanic) and Hiba Elchikhe (Princess Jasmine in Disney’s Aladdin) as teenage protagonists Gibran and Selma, with composer Nadim Naaman (Raoul in the West End’s The Phantom of The Opera) as Gibran’s older self, the show’s narrator and Soophia Foroughi (Lady of the Lake in Spamalot) as Mother.

The album also features Gillian Budd, Joseph Claus, Nadeem Crowe, Siubhan Harrison, James Hume, Irvine Iqbal, Nikita Johal, Sami Lamine, Adam Linstead, Leo Miles and Lauren James Ray.

Check out the video for Spirit of the Earth, the first song released from Broken Wings at www.youtube.com/.

Tickets: From £20. To book, call the box office on 020 7930 8800 or visit www.trh.co.uk/.

Times: Wednesday to Saturday at 7.30pm; Saturday matinee at 2.30pm.

Running time: 2 hours 10 minutes (including interval).

Frozen, Bryony Lavery’s award-winning play, continues at the Theatre Royal Haymarket until May 5. It will be followed – from May 8 to May 20, 2018 – by Maly Drama Theatre of St. Petersburg’s Life and Fate and Uncle Vanya.