New musical retelling the story of Laila Majnu
From the creators of award-winning acclaimed musical Britain’s Got Bhangra comes a new contemporary musical – Laila. Director and Writer Pravesh Kumar (The Deranged Marriage, There’s Something About Simmy), Music Composer Sumeet Chopra (Break the Floorboards, Karma Chopra) and Lyricist Dougal Irvine (Departure Lounge, In Touch) have come together for a retelling of the greatest eastern love story – Laila Majnu.
Originating in 7th century Persia, the bittersweet story of star-crossed lovers has been passed down through verse and song over centuries. It was popularized by 12th century Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi with his version Layla u Majnun and British poet Lord Byron described the story as the “Romeo and Juliet of the East”. Predating Shakespeare’s play by 700 years, it is said to have inspired the bard’s tragic love story and has been the basis for numerous popular Bollywood films and songs.
The story of young love and feuding families is being given a modern musical twist by the Laila creative team, fusing Sufi with Musical Theatre.
The story opens in modern day Yorkshire, where Laila takes shelter from a raging storm in an old bookshop. She comes across a book with her name on it and is compelled to open the book. Consumed by the story, Laila finds herself in an old story and on a new journey.
Artistic Director of Rifco, Pravesh Kumar said, “Laila Majnu is one of the oldest love stories but has rarely been told in the West. The story has travelled across borders and generations through music and verse and is a natural musical. I wanted to share this beautiful story and look at the timeless themes of love and honour in today’s multicultural Britain.”
Also returning from Britain’s Got Bhangra is singer Shin, who will be playing the role of the Father. The musical also stars Reece Bahia as Qays, Ravin J Ganatra as Abba, Mona Goodwin as Laila, Kush Khanna as Atif, Sami Lamine as Tabrez, Sheena Patel as Zeenat and, Vedi Roy and Yinka Williams in the ensemble.
Rifco has been a resident theatre company at Watford Palace Theatre since 2011, creatively working together to bring audiences relevant and engaging stories, which reflect the contemporary British Asian experience. Co-productions include Britain’s Got Bhangra (People’s Favourite Musical – OFFIES 2011), Break The Floorboards (Best Live Event – Asian Media Awards 2013), British Asian Film Festival, Happy Birthday Sunita and MummyJi Presents. They recently completed a successful UK tour of comedy drama The Deranged Marriage.
Laila opens at Watford Palace Theatre in April 2016 before touring to New Wolsey Theatre (Ipswich), West Yorkshire Playhouse (Leeds), Warwick Arts Centre (Coventry), Queen’s Theatre (Hornchurch), Theatre Royal Windsor and The Lowry (Salford).
2 – 17 April: Watford Palace Theatre | watfordpalacetheatre.co.uk | 01923 225671
Previews: 2 – 6 April, Press night: 7 April, 7pm
27 – 30 April: The New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich | wolseytheatre.co.uk | 01473 295900
4 – 8 May: West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds | wyp.org.uk | 0113 213 7700
10 – 15 May: Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry | warwickartscentre.co.uk | 024 7652 4524
17 – 21 May: Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch | queens-theatre.co.uk | 01708 443333
24 – 28 May: Theatre Royal Windsor | theatreroyalwindsor.co.uk | 01753 853 888
31 May – 4 June: The Lowry, Salford | thelowry.com | 0843 208 6000