Brontë's Wuthering Heights Gets Bollywood Makeover for New Stage Version; Casting Announced

News   Brontë's Wuthering Heights Gets Bollywood Makeover for New Stage Version; Casting Announced
 
Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë's timeless tale of passion, jealousy and revenge, will be given a Bollywood make-over for a new stage version that relocates the story to the hot, scorched desert landscape of Rajasthan.

The production will launch a U.K. tour March 13 at Oldham's Coliseum Theatre, where it will run to March 28. It will then tour to Exeter's Northcott Theatre (April 7-11) and Glasgow's Citizens Theatre (April 21-25), before arriving at London's Lyric Hammersmith for a previously announced run from April 29-May 23, with an official opening on April 30. After its London run, it resumes its tour, continuing to Newcastle's Northern Stage (May 27-30), Nuffield's Southampton Theatre (June 2-6), Coventry's Belgrade Theatre (June 9-13) and Harrogate Theatre in Harrogate (June 16-20). The show is co-produced by Tamasha and the Oldham Coliseum in association with the Lyric.

The full creative team and cast have now been announced. The production is created by Tamasha, with original concept and book by Deepak Verma, music by Felix Cross and Sheema Mukherjee, lyrics by Cross, and additional text by Sudha Bhuchar. It is directed by Kristine Landon-Smith, designed by Sue Mayes and choreographed by Nikki Woollaston, with lighting design by Itai Erdal and sound design by Mike Furness. The musical supervisor is John Rigby, and orchestrations and arrangements are by John Rigby & Chandru of Bollywood Strings.

The cast is led by Pushpinder Chani as Krishan and newcomer Youkti Patel as Shakuntala with Adeel Akhtar, Shammi Aulakh, Rina Fatania, Anil Kumar, Divian Ladwa, Sheena Patel, Davina Perera, Gary Pillai and Amith Rahman also in the cast. The Playback singers are Irvine Iqbal, Najam Javed, Ambika Jois, Shaheen Khan and Kartik Raghunathan.

According to press materials, relocating the action to 1770s Rajasthan, with its rigid social hierarchy, inequality of wealth and Victorian influences, is an ideal location for this story of passion corrupted by prevailing social values. In place of the cold moors, the wild scorched expanse of the desert provides a symbolic setting for the doomed love affair of Shakuntala and Krishan (Cathy and Heathcliff from the original novel). As the lovers' tragic tale unfolds against an epic backdrop with heightened emotions that cry out for song, Tamasha creates his own vivid interpretation of a literary classic. Eleven actors will sing in lip-synch to a pre-recorded score, which has been performed and recorded by a team of classically trained musicians in Bangalore and vocalists in London.

Director Kristine Landon-Smith, co-founder and artistic director of Tamasha, directed Fourteen Songs Two Weddings and A Funeral for the company. Other credits include Sweet Cider (Arcola), A Fine Balance (Hampstead and UK tour) and The Trouble With Asian Men (artsdepot and UK tours). Writer Deepak Verma, who is best known for his long-running role as Sanjay in "Eastenders," has previously worked with Tamasha on his play Ghostdancing (Lyric Hammersmith, also directed by Kristine Landon-Smith), which was based on Zola's Thérèse Raquin and translated to an Indian setting.

Composer and lyricist Felix Cross is artistic director of Nitro, and his extensive theatre credits include the music for Tamasha's Ghostdancing and A Fine Balance. Co-composer Sheema Mukherjee brings her blend of Western tradition and Indian classical music. She has collaborated with Natacha Atlas, Transglobal Underground, Noel Gallagher, Cornershop and Courtney Pine.

Choreographer Nikki Woollaston's recent credits include Marguerite (Theatre Royal, Haymarket) and Kismet (English National Opera at the London Coliseum).

To book tickets for the London run, contact the Lyric box office at 0871 22 117 29 or visit www.lyric.co.uk. For details on the rest of the tour and the company, visit www.tamasha.org.uk.

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