Asian angels bring 'Far Pavilions' to West End

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The classic Raj romance The Far Pavilions is being brought to the West End stage thanks to a group of Asian investors making their first foray into London's theatreland.

The classic Raj romance The Far Pavilions is being brought to the West End stage thanks to a group of Asian investors making their first foray into London's theatreland.

In a first for the London stage, the British producer Michael Ward has secured the support of dozens of Asian investors to put on the £4.2m musical adaptation of M M Kaye's story at the Shaftesbury Theatre from 14 April.

The Far Pavilions tells the story of an illicit love between a British officer and an Indian princess in northern India towards the end of the 19th century. The tale particularly appealed to Ward who was raised in India, the son of a tea plantation owner.

Ward said he had spent eight years on the production: "I'm a new West End producer. I've had to do more than Cameron Mackintosh and Andrew Lloyd Webber to raise the money because their credit is good", he said. "My substantial backing has come from south Asian business interests who are as interested in being part of mainstream British life as anyone else," Ward said.

The investors, who pledged sums of up to £750,000, were fascinated by "a story that's got struggle and conflicts between an adopted culture and your heritage and your parents' heritage", he said. "They like the fact that they can play on a mainstream stage. I know Andrew Lloyd Webber went to them for Bombay Dreams and was spectacularly unsuccessful. But I think Bombay Dreams was seen to work and was seen to repay its investors which was a very good thing for us. It would have made it very difficult if it hadn't."

It was only two years ago that Ward secured Gail Edwards, a Trevor Nunn protégé, as director, and a creative team that includes the Olivier-award winning designer Lez Brotherston.

The book and lyrics were written by Stephen Clark, who also won an Olivier for his reworked version of the musical Martin Guerre for Sir Cameron Mackintosh. Its stars, such as Kabir Bedi and Kulvinder Ghir, are well-known in India though less familiar to many in Britain.

M M Kaye, who was born and grew up in India, was an enthusiastic supporter until her death last year at the age of 95. "Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine The Far Pavilions would be turned into a West End musical," she said during development. "I don't mind telling you that if I should fall off my worldly twig before the curtain is up, I shall make an awful nuisance of myself in the next life unless I am allowed back to see it run!"

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