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  • Susan Sabet

WHEN UMM KULTHUM COMES ALIVE AGAIN

An emotional one-night only smash-hit, the “Umm Kulthum & The Golden Era” Musical wowed a packed house on Monday March 2nd, at London’s famous Palladium Theater. Brainchild of Saudi entrepreneur and philanthropist Mona Khashoggi, the first ever musical production that told the story of the life of the Arab world’s biggest ever star, legendary Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum, was a spectacle no Egyptian or Arab should have missed.

In her welcome speech Mrs. Khashoggi who tried her hand in producing for the first time, paid tribute to “the Star of the Orient” who was supposed to perform in London but passed away just a few months before.  Why a musical on Umm Kulthum and why now? Mrs. Khashoggi said: “ Umm Kulthum not only belongs to Egypt but the whole Arab world!”

The cast directed by West End Award winning theater director Bronagh Lagan was headed by Syrian singer Lubana Al Quntar, who not only with her looks but most importantly with her voice was almost Umm Kulthum’s incarnation.  Yet the biggest treat for fans of the legendary singer, was the first London appearance of “Sanaa Nabil”, the 16 year old great-grand niece of Umm Kulthum, who still calls the village where it all started her home. The young lady whose voice bears an unbelievable resemblance to that of her great grand aunt as a young woman told us she was absolutely overwhelmed by the audiences reception and admiration.

Mrs. Khashoggi tells us that her love and admiration for the Egyptian singer started at a young age, when her art loving father invited her to their home. The appetite for producing a play can also be traced back to her childhood, when she used to make up small plays for her and her sisters and brothers.

The musical was made possible through the generous support of a few Saudi women and Mrs. Khashoggi’s family  as well as few sponsors who all mingled with the A-list guests that included Arab royalty and socialites that flew in especially for the night as well as a long list of ambassadors and members of the Arab and British London based society.

We can’t wait to see where Mrs. Khashoggi will take the musical next scheduled to tour the world in the coming months.

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