A musical adaptation of the girl-power soccer film Bend It Like Beckham is set to make its North American premiere in Toronto this winter.
The stage production, which debuted in London’s West End in 2015, will have a limited run at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts’ Bluma Appel Theatre between Dec. 7th and 24th.
Based on the 2002 movie starring Parminder Nagra and Keira Knightley, the show centres on a British teenager who faces the disapproval of her Punjabi Sikh parents in pursuing her dream of playing soccer.
The film’s director and writer Gurinder Chadha, who helped adapt the story for the stage, says as a multicultural city Toronto provided the perfect setting for the musical’s leap across the pond before the production heads to the U.S.
“The reason [the show] works so well, is because it captures that moment where a first generation who’s moved to a city is grappling with their own identity, and they may have kids who want to be assimilated and have their own dreams,” said Chadha, who travelled from London to Toronto to announce the show Tuesday.
“A city like Toronto has so many families like that, where I think the show has real resonance.”
Chadha said Bend It Like Beckham is as relevant now as it was when the film hit theatres 17 years ago in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks, when the world needed feel-good stories to bring people together.
In the current political climate of division, Chadha said she sees a similar demand for stories that celebrate cultural differences, which is why Bend It Like Beckham continues to be rediscovered by new generations.
The musical takes the film’s best qualities and “explodes” them into a cross-cultural song and dance show that will appeal to theatre buffs, soccer fans and Bollywood lovers alike, Chadha said.
“You come away with a really strong emotional sense of being taken on a musical journey,” she said.
“I was able to go back and look at what it was about the film that … resonated and really expand on that in the musical, but giving you a whole lot more as well.”
Tickets for Bend It Like Beckham, produced by Starvox Entertainment, go on sale Tuesday.
THE CANADIAN PRESS