I had very low expectations for the Musical Concept Album, Broken Wings. A musical about the life of a Lebanese poet who I had never heard of before? Sounded like a snooze to me on paper and not the kind of thing I’d be interested in but as it had West End performer Nadim Naaman connected to it, I was curious to give it a listen. And boy am I glad I did!
Set in New York City in 1923, Gibran (Nadim Naaman) narrates his story beautifully, transporting us back two decades and across continents, to turn-of-the-century Beirut to the time where he fell in love with a girl called Selma, who was betrothed to marry someone else through arranged marriage. Throughout the story Gibran and Selma fight for their love for one another, whilst navigating the rules, traditions and expectations that society lays on them.
Nadim’s speaking voice is hypnotic, relaxing and inviting to the ears (I wish he could narrate audio books for me) and sucks the listener in from the very beginning. All of the songs in this song cycle-esq album are hauntingly beautiful, melodically, musically and lyrically. The show will will premiere as a semi-staged production with 9-piece orchestra, at the Theatre Royal Haymarket from August 1 – 4 2018 and within listening to the first three songs on the album, I knew I have to see this show!
The album, written by Nadim Naaman and one of The Middle East’s leading contemporary composers Dana Al Fardan, features performances by Rob Houchen, Hiba Elchikhe, Nadim Naaman, Adam Linstead, Nadeem Crowe, Soophia Foroughi, Gillian Budd, Joseph Claus, Siubhan Harrison, James Hume, Irvine Iqbal, Nikita Johal, Sami Lamine, Leo Miles and Lauren James Ray.
The events in Broken Wings highlight key social issues of the time – the fight for gender equality, the freedom to love who we love, tradition versus modernity, wealth versus happiness, immigration and the importance of ‘home’ – yet these themes are increasingly relevant today, over a century later.
Give Broken Wings a listen. Not only is it a very important story to be heard but it is perfectly written and is a musical joy to any ears that get to experience it.
Reviewed by West End Wilma