Purple's Gary Griffin to Direct Michael Ball in English National Opera's Kismet

News   Purple's Gary Griffin to Direct Michael Ball in English National Opera's Kismet A new production of Robert Wright and George Forrest's Kismet will be presented in summer 2007 at the English National Opera.
Michael Ball
Michael Ball Photo by Aubrey Reuben

According to ENO's official website, West End stage star Michael Ball — recently seen on Broadway in The Woman in White — will head the cast as Hajj/Poet. Gary Griffin, who helmed the current Broadway musical The Color Purple, will direct. Richard Hickox and Simon Lee will conduct the ENO orchestra; Ultz will design sets and costumes. Additional casting for Kismet, which will run June 25-July 14, 2007, will be announced later this year.

The ENO mounting will mark the first new West End production of the musical in nearly three decades. This revised version of Kismet is being conceived by director Griffin, writer-performer Kit Hesketh-Harvey and Luther Davis, who penned the original book with Charles Lederer.

Kismet, originally billed as "a Musical Arabian Night" in 1953, is a rollicking and romantic look at Middle-Eastern life borrowing themes from the Russian composer Alexander Borodin.

The book is by Lederer and Davis, drawn from a play by Edward Knoblock, with music and lyrics by Wright and Forrest (Grand Hotel, Song of Norway, Kean). The score includes "Stranger in Paradise," "Baubles, Bangles and Beads" and the raucous "Not Since Nineveh."

Michael Ball made his Broadway debut as Alex in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Aspects of Love, a role he created on the London stage. His other London stage credits include The Woman in White, The Pirates of Penzance, Les Misérables, The Phantom of the Opera, Passion and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Ball's numerous, best-selling solo recordings include "Centre Stage," "Christmas," "Live at the Royal Albert Hall," "The Movies," "The Musicals," "First Love," "Always" and "Michael Ball." He was also recently seen in the New York City Opera production of Patience and the Broadway mounting of The Woman in White.

Tickets for Kismet will go on sale Aug. 4 by calling 0870 145 0900 or by visiting www.eno.org.