Broken Wings: a tragic love story

“But that sorrow, that inner sadnees links her soul, her soul and mine.”  
Lyric from Selma sung by Khalil Gibran
Nadim Naaman as the older Khalil Gibran (Photo: Danny Kaan)

On Press Night of the new musical Broken Wings, there was a technical problem and the show was restarted.  I was so pleased because I got to hear the marvellous overture again with its soaring strings and sorrowful ‘cello. 

Broken Wings is the autobiographical love story of Khalil Gibran (aged 40 Nadim Naaman) born in the Lebanon in 1883 who, after his father was imprisoned for fraud, as a child emigrated to Boston with his mother (Soophia Forough) and siblings.  After a few years in America he returned to Beirut, to his first home.  He meets a friend Dima Bawab (Ayesha Patel) and is introduced to an old friend of his father’s, the very rich Farris Effandi Karamy (Stephen Rahman-Hughes).  Farris Karamy is thrilled to meet his old friend’s son Khalil (aged 18 Lucca Chadwick-Patel) and introduces Khalil to his only daughter and heir, Selma (Noah Sinigaglia). 

Lucca Chadwick Patel as Young Khalil Gibran and Noah Sinigaglia as Selma Karamy (Photo: Danny Kaan)

There is a huge spoiler in the first few minutes when Khalil (aged 40) introduces the musical when he speaks to music about his first love and the loss of her.  This might be an error as we wait for their love story to go awry with an audience sense of foreboding.  Did the musical of Love Story have the same issue?  Or Romeo and Juliet?

It appears that a marriage is being arranged between Selma and the nephew of Bishop Bulos Galib (Johan Munir) a member of the influential Galib family who have their eye on the Karamy wealth.  The husband intended for Selma, Mansour Bey Galib (Haroun Al Jeddai) looks gorgeous but is dissolute and would rather play with show girls and prostitutes than entertain his beautiful wife.  When asked by his uncle to marry Selma, his first reaction is, “They say a married man is more desirable”.

We get a good idea of Beirut at the turn of the century with Gregor Donnelly’s atmospheric set with its arched colonnades and old map of Beirut printed on one wall and on the floor, like carpet, plus Persian rugs.  Broken Wings is played in the round with the audience either side of the playing area.

Johan Munir as Bishop Bulos Galib and Haroun Al Jeddal as Mansour Bey Galib (Photo: Danny Kaan)

The lyrics have poetic descriptions but with little humour and lightness and too often the rhyme controls the meaning.  In “Selma”, “No longer a stranger in this land, Just one more touch of her hand”, the hackneyed “Then those beautiful eyes embedded like jewels” and the nonsensical “She wears a cloak of sorrow like blossom in the mist of dawn”.  I feel the lyrics might have lost something in translation from Gibran’s original.  Of course, many first loves are not tested by time but remain in their purity.  Remember it starts when you sink into his arms but ends with your arms in his sink!

The singing performances are strong as is the acting.  I loved Stephen Rahman-Hughes’ rich singing voice as Farris and the duets between young Khalil and Selma. The choreography is limited although I like the scenic handkerchief dance at the Galib/Karamy wedding but there is good movement in the crowd scenes in Beirut.  Soophia Foroughi excels as Khalil’s enterprising mother in “Spirit of the Earth” where the whole company is led by her.

I really liked the music which is strong and with pretty melodies although the lack of lyrical wit and originality makes the 150 minute running time slow but the orchestra under Erika Gundesen’s direction is magnificent.  It is the book and lyrics which are lacking. 

Noah Sinigaglia as Selma Karamy and Haroun Al Jeddal as Mansour Bey Galib (Photo: Danny Kaan)

Musical Numbers

Act One


Prologue: Heart of the Earth

All I Longed to See

All I longed to See (Reprise)

Your Father

Farris Effandi Karamy

Here in This Garden

So Many Questions


I Know Now

I Know Now (Reprise)

That Was the Day

‘Til Death Reunites Us 

Act Two

Holy Matrimony

I Lived Long Enough


Spirit of the Earth

Be Free

Careful Mansour

Rescue Me

Heart of the Earth (Reprise)


Production Notes

Broken Wings

Book by Nadim Naaman

Music and Lyrics by Dana Al Fardan and Nadim Naaman

Adapted from Khalil Gibran’s The Broken Wings



Yasmeen Audi

Haroun Al Jeddal

Lucca Chadwick-Patel

Soophia Foroughi

 Alex Kais

Johan Munir

Nadim Naaman

Ayesha Patel

Stephen Rahman-Hughes

Noah Sinigaglia



Director: Bronagh Lagan

Designer: Gregor Donnelly

Orchestrations and Arrangements: Joe Davison

Musical Director: Erika Gundesen

Movement: Philip Michael Thomas

Costume Designer:  Jon Morrell

Sound Designer: Andrew Johnson

Lighting Designer: Nic Farman


Running Time: Two hours 30 minutes with an interval

 Booking until 26th March 2022 


Charing Cross Theatre

The Arches

Villiers Street

London WC2N 6NL

Box Office: 08444 930 650

Tube: Embankment

Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge

at the Charing Cross Theatre on 15th February 2022