The world premiere of Brokeback Mountain—Ashley Robinson's new play with music based on Annie Proulx’s short story—officially opens at London's @sohoplace May 18 following previews that began May 10.
Tony and BAFTA nominee Mike Faist (Dear Evan Hansen, West Side Story film) stars as Jack with Oscar nominee Lucas Hedges (Manchester By The Sea, Boy Erased) as Ennis. They are joined by Emily Fairn (The Responder) as Alma, Paul Hickey (Waste, Our Class) as Older Ennis, and Martin Marquez (Othello, Husbands & Sons) as Joe/Bill/Jack’s Father.
The original songs are performed by Eddi Reader (Fairground Attraction), who plays the Balladeer. Reader is joined onstage by her country and western band, including musical director Sean Green on piano, Meelie Traill on upright bass, Greg Miller on chromatic harmonica, and BJ Cole on pedal steel guitar.
Understudies include Rob Alexander-Adams, Tom Mahy, and Sophie Reid.
Set in Wyoming 1963, Brokeback Mountain follows the relationship between Ennis and Jack, who take jobs on the isolated Brokeback Mountain, and all their certainties of life change forever as they flounder in unexpected emotional waters of increasing depth. This intense tale of an unresistible and hidden love spans 20 years and its tragic consequences.
The production also has set and costume design by Tom Pye, lighting by David Finn, and sound by Christopher Shutt. The creative team also includes casting director Shaheen Baig, intimacy director Tommy Ross-Williams, fight director Kevin McCurdy, production manager Phil Wilding, costume supervisor Zeb Lalljee, wigs maker and supervisor Sam Cox, props supervisor Lily Mollgaard, and vocal and dialect coaches Mary Irwin and Ben Furey.
Proulx said in an earlier statement, “Brokeback Mountain has been recreated in several different forms, each with its own distinctive moods and impact. Ashley’s script is fresh and deeply moving, opening sight lines not visible in the original nor successive treatments.”
Robinson added, “Dan Gillespie Sells’ powerful and beautiful songs, sung by 'The Balladeer,' give voice to the tumultuous inner landscape of our wannabe cowboys (both young men of few words), and provide the scope of our vast and brutal outer landscape, not to mention allowing Proulx’s poetic prose to literally sing."
Director Butterell stated, “When Ashley approached us about collaborating on Brokeback Mountain, we were struck immediately by his deep connection to the world and community that Annie has so brilliantly written about over the years. He brought to the adaptation an authenticity and an understanding of these working class men, scraping to survive the harsh brutality of their environment and the insularity of thinking surrounding them, which ultimately leads to their tragedy.”