By Ellie Iorizzo, PA Senior Entertainment Reporter
US actors Mike Faist and Lucas Hedges will make their West End debuts in the stage adaption of Annie Proulx’s novel Brokeback Mountain.
The new production at Soho Place will see director Jonathan Butterell, songwriter Dan Gillespie Sells and producer Nica Burns reunite after the success of hit musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie for the show’s 12-week season from May 10th to August 12th.
Faist, who scooped a Bafta nomination for his role in 2021’s West Side Story film, will play Jack Twist, while Hedges, who secured an Oscar nomination for his supporting role in Manchester By The Sea, will play Ennis Del Mar.
The play is written by Ashley Robinson, based on Proulx’s short story originally published in The New Yorker in 1997, which was later turned into a film in 2005 starring Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal.
Robinson, making his playwriting debut, said: “I’m honoured to be entrusted by Annie Proulx to bring new life in new form to her timeless and universal story. A story that means so much to so many, and will surely mean as much to a whole new generation.
“Dan Gillespie Sells’ powerful and beautiful songs, sung by The Balladeer, give voice to the tumultuous inner landscape of our wannabe cowboys (both young men of few words), and provide the scope of our vast and brutal outer landscape, not to mention allowing Proulx’s poetic prose to literally sing.
“Grateful as all hell to reunite with Jonathan Butterell and to put this piece in his skilled and sensitive hands — what lucky actors, what a lucky team, and what a lucky production, all coming together under Nica Burns, in her marvel of a new space, @sohoplace. Let’s ride.”
The original music by Gillespie Sells will be sung by Eddi Reader, who plays The Balladeer.
Gillespie Sells said: “I have loved working on this project with Ashley and Jonathan. The material and this complex story is inspiring to compose for.
“I’ve really enjoyed reconnecting with a genre of music I grew up with and using it to serve the drama of each moment. Plus I get to work with some legendary artists which is such an honour and a joy.”
Butterell said: “When Ashley approached us about collaborating on Brokeback Mountain we were struck immediately by his deep connection to the world and community that Annie has so brilliantly written about over the years.
“He brought to the adaptation an authenticity and an understanding of these working class men, scraping to survive the harsh brutality of their environment and the insularity of thinking surrounding them, which ultimately leads to their tragedy.”
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Proulx said: “Brokeback Mountain has been recreated in several different forms, each with its own distinctive moods and impact. Ashley’s script is fresh and deeply moving, opening sight lines not visible in the original nor successive treatments.”
Brokeback Mountain is the fourth production to open at Soho Place after Marvellous, As You Like It and Medea.