Theatre Royal Haymarket, London – until 4 August 2018
Broken Wings, the new musical based on Kahlil Gibran‘s bestselling poetic novel, has taken over the Theatre Royal Haymarket for a limited run. It provides a swooping romance, combines middle eastern melodies with musical theatre influences and showcases some of the finest voices in the West End.
After a stunning orchestral prologue, the audience are thrown into the life of writer Gibran and his fated romance with kind-hearted and beautiful Selma Karamy. The story is touching, if fairly cliched. We know from the start that the couple aren’t going to have a happy ending, but we still feel the emotion as they are consistently dragged apart from one another.
Personally, for me, Joe Davison‘s orchestration is the star of the show. The beautifully flowing, virtuosic music evokes feelings of hot summer nights and all-encompassing romance and brings the emotion to life.
Unfortunately, I didn’t feel that the lyrics had the same effect; over-dramatic phrases and simile’s used on mass feel cheesy and somewhat simplistic. Instead of highlighting something which may not have been clear to the audience, they simply highlight the clear thoughts and emotions so didn’t add to the intensity of the story. Although based on the original poetry which is lovely, I don’t think it translates as well to lyrics.
The cast performing the songs, however, are outstanding both acting wise and vocally. As our narrator and older Khalil, Nadim Naaman is suitably brooding, whilst his younger counterpart, Rob Houchen shows a stunning transition from childish glee and positivity to a heartbroken man. Nikita Johal is vulnerable but strong as Selma and provides some moments of vocal brilliance, especially in act 2. Another standout is Soophia Foroughi as Mother; Soophia brings a rich, emotion-filled vocal to the show and leads the rousing closing number with skill and power. Nadeem Crowe also gives a humourous and memorable performance as Khalil’s best friend, Karim Bawwab.
There’s definitely an audience for Broken Wings and I certainly believe that after some lyrical changes it could have a much longer life in the West End. For stellar performances and outstanding orchestrations, get yourself along to the Theatre Royal Haymarket… if you can get a ticket!
photo credit: Marc Brenner