The Shadows, a star-studded Arab theatre and poetry spectacular being staged in Sharjah tomorrow, promises to take audiences on a musical journey across the region.
The cast of the show, at the picturesque Al Majaz Amphitheatre, includes the latest Arab Idol winner, Hazem Sharif, and the Lebanese singer Carole Aoun.
The writer and performer Nadine Al Assad says the project started out as a small poetry gig featuring local stars.
“It was supposed to be another normal poetry night where we bring people to perform with a musical backdrop,” she says. “But composer Khaled El Sheikh and myself kept coming up with more ideas until it became this rather big thing that we have here.”
The dreamlike plot of The Shadows, with music by the Syrian folk group Inana, follows the actors and singers as they explore the region's artistic riches while travelling from the GCC to the Levant.
Al Assad has a successful job hosting entertainment programmes for the Beirut-based Al Jadeed TV, but she is also an acclaimed poet whose collection, Wings of Desire, was published in 2012.
She says the escapist storyline of The Shadows mirrors her passion for poetry.
“We are living in a very turbulent period, where troubles not only occur in the Middle East but all over the world,” she says.
“The only place that is removed from all of this strife is my world of poetry. It is a place where there is love, safety, passion and inspiration. I want to take audience members on that journey and to experience that dreamlike atmosphere.”
Joining her on the voyage is The Shadows' biggest star, Sharif. It was a coup, Al Assad acknowledges, for the 21-year-old to sign up for such an ambitious project fresh after winning the third season of Arab Idol in December. But he was not offered the role simply because of his high profile.
“We were looking for a great voice that can enhance the material,” she says. “We could have got plenty of big stars but we felt that some of them wouldn’t suit it.
“You need a special voice to sing poetry because it is totally different than performing a pop or folk song. Hazem has this resonant voice that can do that; it’s heavy and very emotive.”
No stranger to interviewing celebrities in her television career, Al Assad says she was impressed by Sharif’s down-to-earth nature despite all the hype and attention.
“He is very impressive in that he is serious and dedicated,” she says. “He works very hard and he has a personality that is very grounded.”
Al Assad hopes The Shadows will pave the way for similar productions in Sharjah.
“The emirate has become a beacon for culture, fraternity and humanity,” she says. “I hope it will be well received by the audience as a new art genre in the region.”
• The Shadows is at Al Majaz Amphitheatre, Sharjah, on Friday, February 27, at 9pm. Tickets, from Dh100, are available at www.ticketmaster.ae
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