Review: Siddhartha

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AN Italian production of a German language novel whose central character was named after the founder of Buddhism makes Siddhartha: The Musical a truly international show.

* * * *

ASSEMBLY ROOMS, GEORGE STREET

Loosely based on the 1922 novel by Herman Hesse, the musical follows Prince Siddhartha, who rejects the rarefied, opulent lifestyle of the palace to find a deeper meaning to life. The story follows him through the decades as he meets holy men, a rich merchant and even love.

Fans of the original book won’t be surprised to learn that the adaptation takes many liberties, but the spiritual sense of the book seems to have be lovingly preserved.

The music is unashamedly Italian – sumptuous and grand, although it features occasional traces of traditional Indian music. The lyrics are entirely in Italian, with subtitles shown on monitors either side of the stage but, given that the lyrics are simple and often repeated, any disconnect between watching and reading is quickly unnoticeable.

There is little staging as such, but fabulous backgrounds are projected on curtains, occasionally giving an almost 3D effect.

The cast are uniformly buff and beautiful. Their highly trained voices, whether solo or in chorus, are an absolute joy to listen to. Of particular note are Katy Desario as Kamala – the love of Siddartha’s life, and the deep, rich voice of Paolo Gatti as Siddhartha’s father and King.

Giorgio Adamo, with long, flowing hair makes for an imposing and impressive lead as Siddhartha. His strong voice and undoubted stage presence are ideal for the role. The show is narrated in English by an older Siddhartha played by film and TV star, Michael Nouri.

Ultimately, Siddhartha is a spectacular show that will leave you beaming as you leave the theatre.

Until 24 August