Stratford East Premieres Bhangra, Harder RevivedDate: 23 March 2010
Theatre Royal Stratford East will continue its association with new musicals by hosting the world premiere of Britain’s Got Bhangra later this month (28 April to 16 May 2010, previews from 17 April), billed as "the first British Bhangra musical of its kind".
Composed by ‘The Beat Guru’ Sumeet Chopra, who has worked on Bollywood films and collaborated with bhangra stars including the Dhol Foundation and Punjabi MC, the show - which promises "to lift you from the dhol drums" - charts the success of Bhangra music and its influence on British culture.
It’s the early 80s, Margaret Thatcher’s in power and a new soap called EastEnders is on the TV. Twinkle has just arrived in London fresh from the fields of the Punjab and isn’t too impressed with the cold weather and unfriendly people that he’s met with but none of that is going to stop this star from shining - he’s determined to rise to the top with his original brand of Bhangra.
Britain’s Got Bhangra stars Shin, the lead vocalist for double platinum disk award-winning Bhangra band DCS, alongside: Arun Blair-Mangat (Jason); Rakesh Boury (DJ Lovely); Keeza Farhan (Ensemble); Rina Fatania (Bibiji); Sophia Haque (Shinde); Natasha Lewis (Jussi); Harveen Mann (Ensemble); Ankur Bahl (Ensemble); Davina Perera (Ensemble); and Sunil Pramanik (Rocky).
Produced in association with Rifco Arts and Warwick Arts Centre, the creative team features acclaimed Bollywood choreographer Andy Kumar, lyricist Dougal Irvine (Departure Lounge) and writer/director Pravesh Kumar.
Following its runs at Stratford East, Britain’s Got Bhangra will be touring nationally to venues including Warwick Arts Centre, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Oxford Playhouse and Watford Palace Theatre.
Screen-to-stage Reggae musical The Harder They Come, which began life at Stratford East in 2006, is being revived for a national tour opening at the Nottingham Playhouse next month (14-22 May 2010).
The show, which had a West End run at the Playhouse Theatre in 2008 (See News, 9 May 2008), is based on the 1972 film that starred Jimmy Cliff and introduced reggae to a worldwide audience. It tells the story of young singer Ivan Martin who heads to Kingston in Jamaica with dreams of becoming a reggae star, but the harsh reality of the music scene drives him to a fast and furious life as an outlaw.
The stage version – written by Perry Henzell, the co-writer, director and producer of the original film, who died in 2006 – features songs from the original film soundtrack, including “You Can Get It If You Really Want”, “Higher and Higher”, “Many Rivers to Cross” and “Rivers of Babylon”, accompanied by a live reggae band.
The new tour features original cast members Victor Romero Evans, Marlon King, Chris Tummings, Joy Mack and Derek Elroy alongside Matt Henry in the central role of Ivan.
Presented by UK Arts International in association with Nottingham Playhouse, The Harder They Come will visit venues including Nottingham Playhouse, West Yorkshire Playhouse, The Lowry - Salford, Oxford Playhouse, Wimbledon Theatre, Cardiff New Theatre, Birmingham Hippodrome and Northampton Derngate.