Review: Broken Wings Album

RATING: ★★★★★

If you're looking for a new musical theatre album to listen to, look no further than Broken Wings, a brand new musical by Nadim Naaman and Dana Al Fardan. The show is based on Kahil Gibran's poetic novel of the same name about forbidden love and fighting against society's expectations in 1912 Lebanon. The music itself is beautiful and the story is incredibly moving.

If you don't know (I certainly didn't), Gibran is the third-best selling poet of all time. His novel Broken Wings uses both poetry and prose to tell the story of a man, modeled after Gibran himself, who falls in love with a beautiful young woman named Selma only to be separated. The story is incredibly relevant today as it deals with the desire to be allowed to be with who you love, gender equality, and religion. It goes between 1923 New York with an older Gibran reminiscing and 1912 Beirut.

The show's music was written by Nadim Naaman and Dana Al Farden, a female Qatari composer. You might recognize Naaman, an actor of Lebanese origins, from his roles in the West End like Raoul in Phantom of the Opera. I think it's incredibly important to support work made by creators of color because I agree with Naaman that one of the best ways to increase diversity onstage is to have more diverse stories being told.

Broken Wings is fairly solo-heavy with some ensemble numbers interspersed as well. The show has many beautiful ballads like "So Many Questions" and "Selma" in addition to more jaunty tunes like "Farris Effandi Karamy". The lyrics are fittingly poetic and the music has gorgeous orchestrations with lots of strings. The music has the same haunting longing as Titanic or Ragtime, but with a clear Middle Eastern influence.

In fact, the rousing instrumental "Overture" is one of my favorite tracks off the album. I also love "All I Longed to See", a beautiful ensemble number that's a lovely introduction to Beirut. "'Til Death Reunites Us" is another favorite. I love the "Prologue" for which Naaman does a very spoken calming monologue including the gorgeous line, "We all remember our first love and try to recapture that strange time".

The album includes many wonderful voices, including well-known West End actors like Rob Houchen and Adam Linstead. It features about 70-80% actors of Middle Eastern or Mediterranean heritage, which is amazing. The voices are remarkably well suited to the roles, especially for a concept album.

The musical is having a semi-staged run at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in London the first week of August. I booked in tickets this week for my family to see it as luckily enough, it falls in the week that they're visiting. I highly recommend buying a ticket if you can because I think it's going to be something incredibly special. I'll likely write a review on here so definitely check back in August!

I recently interviewed Nadim Naaman for BroadwayWorld UK and he had some amazing things to say about the show, how it was created, and the importance of representation. Check it out here!

I honestly can't recommend this album enough. If you love historic shows like Les Mis, Titanic, or Parade, then I think you would absolutely love it. It truly has something in it for everyone and it's a beautifully soothing listen. There have been so many cast albums released recently, but this is by far my favorite one.
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