Rumi once said, “Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.” Ironic perhaps, as this is a review of Rumi: The Musical which explores the 13th-century poet and philosopher’s legacy, but there is something wonderful about watching another’s story unfurl before your eyes. Directed by Bronagh Lagan this brand new musical at London Coliseum is certainly one to take note of.
The story begins when Rumi (Nadim Naaman) first meets his mentor, Shams (Ramin Karimloo) and follows the ‘transformative and powerful’ friendship the pair form as Shams expands Rumi’s thinking. However, their friendship begins to affect Rumi’s family, friends and followers, most notably Rumi’s son Aladdin (Ahmed Hamad) and his step-daughter Kimya (Casey Al-Shaqsy) who have a ‘special’ relationship of their own.
While the entire cast of Rumi: The Musical were incredible in their performance, one has the sneaking suspicion that Ramin Karimloo stole the show as Shams. Certainly, the character of Shams, though the main cause of conflict within the plot, also provided some much needed comic relief. Moreover, Karimloo’s powerful singing voice was a delight to listen to. In addition, Soophia Foroughi as Kara and Casey Al-Shaqsy as Kimya both delivered heart-wrenchingly beautiful performances.
The pacing of the musical did feel a bit uneven. The second act, unfortunately, didn’t pack quite the same punch as the first act, although perhaps this was not helped by the interval which seemed overly long. The narrative thread of the second act seemed to unravel rather quickly and without the thoughtful precision of the rest of the plot. However, this does feel like nitpicking as overall the musical was a pleasure to watch.
Rumi: The Musical is a refreshing new musical with a powerful score, courtesy of Dana Al Fardan and Nadim Naaman that leaves you wanting to stream the soundtrack, especially as it is only running for two nights at the London Coliseum. Rumi’s teachings of tolerance, peace and love are clearly visible within the show and the standing ovation the musical received on its first night is well deserved.