By Kris Sinclair Christian
The shifting sands of warfare sweep across the Arabian desert to Egypt. But an Arabic steed strengthens cultural ties and unites the belligerents. That’s the underlying message of El Último Jinete (The Last Horseman), a critically acclaimed Spanish musical set to tour several European capitals after its successful run on Teatros Canal in Madrid (6 December 2012 – 6 January 2013).
But the romantic framework of the story revolves around Tiradh, a young Bedouin who has always dreamt of riding into battle and glory and, ultimately, conquering a kingdom for himself. To reach his goal he must first find the right horse because, as desert legend goes, for each rider there is a special horse and only after horseman and horse are united will the circle of destiny be complete.
The search for that horse takes Tiradh through the deserts of Arabia to 19th century Egypt , a country torn by tribal wars and foreign military ambitions, and on to Victorian England; he has learned that the very horse he is searching for is, by quirk of fate, being kept in the outskirts of London. In this long voyage Tiradh befriends Al Khansa, an immortal poetess who recites elegies to warriors felled in the battlefield and is a big help to him.
Upon reaching London, conflict arises. Tiradh is convinced that the horse rightfully belongs to him and thus finds himself fighting Lady Laura who refuses to relinquish the crowning glory of her stables and, moreover, has captivated the young Bedouin. Tiradh doesn’t shirk the final obstacles and, in the end, he emerges as a matured young man who wins not only his lady love but also the stallion of his elusive dreams.
The lavish production in Madrid has gone over big with both the critics and the audiences. The credit for the raves goes to London and Madrid. Both cities have assembled a highly gifted iconic team. On this side of the English Channel the production counts on Spanish producer Andrés Vicente Gómez (1992 Oscar for best foreign film Belle Époque); Ray Loriga (libretto and script), author, playwright and director whose novels have been translated into twenty languages and extolled by such newspapers as The Guardian, Le Monde and The New York Times; and Spanish director Victor Conde who brought Broadway hits like Cabaret, Mamma Mia and Les Miserables to the Spanish theater.
On the other side of the Channel, the line-up includes English song writer Barry Mason who composed lyrics for mega singers like Barbara Streisand, Engelbert Humperdinck and Tom Jones; Gibraltar-born Albert Hammond who wrote and performed hit songs likje “It Never Rains In California;” composer John Cameron, winner of the New York Desk award in 1996; and the 1971 Oscar-winning costume designer Yvonne Blake for Fanny and Alexandra
The Last Horseman’s marvelously talented cast and crew (see photos), whose command performance made every night in Madrid magical, is led by Miguel Fernández (“Tiradh”) and Julie Möller (“Lady Laura”). A tour de force indeed!
Next stop: the London West End. And then Paris. After these, the production is training its sights on Broadway.
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