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Broken Wings: Cast and creatives at rehearsals

Broken Wings Cast
Nadim Naaman and Dana Al Fardan

After family and friends told Nadim Naaman and Dana Al Fardan they must meet each other, they met for a coffee and instantly decided that they were going to write a musical, a year later Nadim was sending a script to Dana to compose the music for what is now Broken Wings.

Broken Wings is an autobiographical tale of tragic love based on Lebanese-born poet Kahlil Gibran’s 1912 masterpiece.

Today, while the cast were busy in rehearsals they took a break to give us a preview of 3 of the songs from the show and we were also treated to a Q&A with principal cast members Rob Houchen and Nikita Johal together with writers Nadim Naaman (who also stars) and Dana Al Fardan.

I must admit until today I had not heard of the poet Kahlil Gilbran nor am not familiar with any of his work, which is kind of the point and why Nadim and Dana wanted to bring his work to the stage: Nadim told to us that Gibran is one of the best selling poets of all time but yet still relatively unknown outside the Middle East. Nadim went on to say that Gibran is like the Shakespeare of the Middle East – his work is recited at weddings and funerals and people have his quotes and poems up on their walls at home and even though his work is over a century old it is still relevant. Rob Houchen commented that he thought Gibran’s thoughts were so advanced for his time.

The cast performed for us “Selma” which was led by Rob who plays a teenage Gibran, “I know now” a duet between young Gibran and Selma (played by Nikita) and ” Spirit of the Earth” in which we saw the whole cast – with extraordinary powerful and moving lead vocals by Soophia Foroughi who plays mother.

The music sounded instantly “classic musical” to me and has left me wanting to see the full stage show. In the Q&A Dana said “Gibran is a child of the West and the East so we wanted to stay true to his Arabic origin but at the same time represent his relevance all over the world. We have classic music but also have Arabic aspects to it with a focus on the instrumentation to represent the Arabic elements while still giving a classic overall sound” Nadim then perfectly described it as “a western soundtrack with lots of brushstrokes of Arabic”

The concept album has already been released ahead of the first production and had some great feedback, Nadim told us they did it this way around as it’s the best way to get the show out there. He also explained that the shows in London will act like a showcase before they take it to the Middle East, and doing it in this West End theatre gives them a product that is instantly transferable.

I asked if the production will stay in English when heading to the middle east and was told yes for now or until someone asks them to write it in Arabic.

The focus of Broken Wings is to bring the work of Gibran to the Western World and it seems very timely with diversity being such a big subject in London theatre right now. Nadim says he is also hoping this will open the door to the other hundreds of Arabic books out there and inspire others to do the same.

Nadim plays the older version of Gibran who acts like a narrator for the musical, this echos his real life role as the writer, initially he didn’t want to cast himself, but after some gentle persuasion from others he has taken on the role and feels he now gets the best of both worlds. Nadim also said that he may also play the role when the musical goes to Beirut as he is Lebanese and says it will mean a lot to his family over there, but when he was writing he had no intention of casting a role for himself.

With the cast and creatives looking so passionate and a great morning at the rehearsal space all I can say is that I would love to see the show and I recommend you book too.


Broken Wings
Book by Nadim Naaman
Music and Lyrics by Dana al Fardan and Nadim Naaman
Wednesday 1- Saturday 4 August

Theatre Royal Haymarket
London, SW1Y 4HT


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