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Nikita Johal steps up from ensemble to play female lead role in Broken Wings

Nikita Johal
Nikita Johal

With just over a week until opening night, there has been a major cast change to the eagerly awaited West End premiere of “Broken Wings”.

Nikita Johal, fresh from playing the lead role of Wendla in the acclaimed “Spring Awakening” at Manchester’s Hope Mill Theatre, is replacing Hiba Elchikhe (Princess Jasmine in the Australian production of Disney’s “Aladdin”) as Selma. Hiba has withdrawn from the production for personal reasons.

“Broken Wings”, an autobiographical tale of tragic love based on Lebanese-born poet Kahlil Gibran’s 1912 masterpiece, with Book Music & Lyrics by West End star Nadim Naaman (“The Phantom of the Opera”) and Music and Lyrics by Dana Al Fardan, one of the Middle East’s leading contemporary composers, will premiere as a semi-staged production with 9-piece orchestra, at the Theatre Royal Haymarket from August 1 – 4.

Press night is Thursday August 2 at 7.30pm

Co-Writer Nadim Naaman leads the cast as the iconic Gibran, the show’s narrator, with Rob Houchen (Marius in the West End production of “Les Misérables” and “Titanic” at Charing Cross Theatre) as Gibran’s teenage self.

Nadim said: “Nikita, who was preparing to understudy the role, will now play Selma. It feels wonderful to have promoted from within the company, she is an amazing talent and we are delighted that Broken Wings will mark her West End debut.”

The rest of the cast features Adam Linstead (Old Deuteronomy in Cats at the London Palladium and International Tour) as Farris, Soophia Foroughi (Elena in Tiger Bay, Wales Millennium Centre and Lady of The Lake, Spamalot, English Theatre Frankfurt) as Mother, Nadeem Crowe (Doug/Mr.Spencer Williams in School of Rock at The Gillian Lynne Theatre and Sunset Boulevard, London Coliseum) as Karim, Irvine Iqbal (currently playing Sultan in the West End production of Disney’s Aladdin) as Bishop Bulos Galib and Sami Lamine (Laila:The Musical, West Yorkshire Playhouse and UK Tour) as Mansour Bey Galib with Robert Hannouch (Godspell, UK Tour, Miracle on 34th Street, UK Tour) and Lauren James Ray (Rebecca in Imagine This, Union Theatre and understudied and played both Glinda and Nessarose in the West End production of Wicked) as ensemble.

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.

This moving new musical is directed by Bronagh Lagan, with orchestrations by Joe Davison. It is produced by Ali Matar.

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.

The Broken Wings Concept Album was released in May. It is available for download on iTunes, Amazon MP3 and Google Play. Limited-edition CDs can be ordered via Auburn Jam Music using this link: www.brokenwings.auburnjam.co.uk

Check out the earlier video for Spirit of the Earth, the first song released from Broken Wings


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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