Saturday, June 7, 2008

Judah Ben-Hur

I just watched the promotional DVD of this new musical by Ellen and David M. Sanborn and am impressed. Their goal is to bring the show to Broadway. They seem to have a worthy product -- and they’ve definitely been paving the way.

An international cast and crew presented the world premiere in Singapore from 2001 to 2002 where one reviewer had this to say: “The musical weaves the thematic threads of Lew Wallace’s novel, Ben-Hur, refreshingly (with) more humor and a lot less angst. Every element is scrupulously conceived and put together . . (with) many beautifully wrought songs . . . Ingeniously designed.”

The track record for this story is strong. The classic novel beat out popular contemporaries such as Les Miserable to become the No. 1 best-selling novel of the 19th century. In 1899, a stage version of Ben-Hur opened on Broadway and toured the country for more than 20 years, becoming the most successful theatrical production in U.S. history. In 1959 the film, starring Charleton Heston, broke box office records and garnered an unprecedented 11 Academy Awards, a record still unsurpassed.

Now the story has been dusted off, made funnier and faster, and turned into a musical comedy. Enhanced by 21st century technology, Judah Ben-Hur delivers timeless romance, the legendary chariot race and a battle between revenge and redemption. Epic stuff -- it should find a place on Broadway.

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