As previously tipped (See The Goss, 28 Sep 2004), a new stage musical version of MM Kaye’s popular historical novel The Far Pavilions will open in the West End next April. It will receive its world premiere at the Shaftesbury Theatre on 14 April 2005 (previews from 24 March). Booking opens to the public on Monday 22 November 2004.

Published in 1978, The Far Pavilions is set in 19th-century colonial India and follows the forbidden romance between British officer Ashton Pelham-Martyn and Indian princess Anjuli, whose marriage has already been arranged to a tyrannical ruler. In 1984, the story was made into a television mini-series – starring Ben Cross, Amy Irving and Christopher Lee – for the American cable channel HBO.

The stage version has been in development for more than eight years, the brainchild of producer Michael E Ward whose wife, a fan of the book, suggested it would make a good musical. Ward consulted regularly with MM Kaye on the project before her death, at the age of 95, in January 2004.

The Far Pavilions features music by Philip Henderson and book and lyrics by Martin Guerre’s Stephen Clark. The premiere production will be directed by Gale Edwards (Jesus Christ Superstar, Whistle Down the Wind) and designed by Lez Brotherston.

Currently residing at the Shaftesbury Theatre is the UK production of the New York cult hit Bat Boy - The Musical, which opened on 8 September 2004 (previews from 18 August). Following largely negative reviews, poor houses and the exit of the show’s UK partners, the show was predicted to close earlier this month. Instead, in a gutsy show of determination, the American producers decided to extend its season by three and a half months (See News, 1 Oct 2004). It’s currently booking up to 14 February 2005.

At the time of the extension, Michael Alden, the lead US producer who has backed Bat Boy since its Off-Broadway run in 2001, told This is a lovely worthwhile show and I’m going to support it. It deserves a place here.” No closing date has yet been announced.

- by Terri Paddock