Previewed 15 May 2015, Opened 24 June 2015, Closed 5 March 2016 at the Phoenix Theatre in London
The world stage premiere of the new British musical Bend It Like Beckham in London, co-adapted and directed for the stage by the film's original co-writer and director, Gurinder Chadha.
Jess is facing the most important decision of her life - does she live up to her family expectations of university, career and marriage, or follow in the footsteps of her hero David Beckham. When the talented teenage footballer is spotted playing football in Southall, a world of opportunities opens up before her. But as the day of her sister's traditional Indian wedding approaches, Jess needs to pick sides.
This brand new British musical features vibrant characters and a new music score with a Punjabi kick with and funny, glorious and uplifting story about refusing to watch from the sidelines, bending the rules, and scoring that deciding goal.
The cast features Natalie Dew as 'Jess', Lauren Samuels as 'Jules', Jamie Campbell Bower as 'Joe', Sophie-Louise Dann as 'Paula', Jamal Andreas 'Tony', Preeya Kalidas as 'Pinky', Tony Jayawardena as 'Mr Bhamra', Natasha Jayetileke as 'Mrs Bhamra', Raj Bajaj as 'Teetu', Irvine Iqbal as 'Teetu's Dad', Sohm Kapila as 'Teetu's Mum', Buckso Dhillon-Woolley, Chloe Chambers, Daniel Bolton, Danielle Young, Genesis Lynea, Harveen Mann, Jorell Coiffic-Kamall, Karl Seth, Kayleigh McKnight, Kirstie Skivington, Leanne Pinder, Lisa Bridge, Michelle Bishop, Rakesh Boury, Sejal Keshwala, Serina Mathew, Sharan Phull, and Tom Millen, with Heritage Singers Shahid Khan and Rekha Sawhney, and a guest footballer at each performance (Amy Bradley / Robyn McEvoy / Shannon Moloney / Sophie McLean / Toni-Anne Wayne / Wendy Martin).
Directed by Gurinder Chadha, with choreography and musical staging by Aletta Collins, sets by Miriam Buether, costumes by Katrina Lindsay, lighting by Neil Austin, and sound by Richard Brooker.
Musical with original music by Howard Goodall, lyrics by Charles Hart, and book by Paul Mayeda Berges and Gurinder Chadha, adapted from the 2002 film with screenplay by Gurinder Chadha, Guljit Bindra and Paul Mayeda Berges.
Natalie Dew's London theatre credits include playing 'Juliet' in Bijan Sheibani's revival of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet at the National Theatre's Shed Theatre in 2013.
Lauren Samuels' London theatre credits include playing 'Sandy' in David Gilmore's revival of the Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey musical Grease at the Piccadilly Theatre in 2010.
Preeya Kalida's London theatre credits include playing 'the Narrator' in Nichola Treherne's revival of Steven Pimlott's staging of the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Adelphi Theatre in 2007; and 'Priya' in Steven Pimlott's production of the AR Rahman and Don Black musical Bombay Dreams at the Victoria Apollo Theatre in 2002.
Tony Jayawardena's London theatre credits include playing 'Second Lord Dumaine' in Marianne Elliott's revival of William Shakespeare's All's Well That Ends Well at the National Theatre's Olivier Theatre in 2009.
Natasha Jayetileke's London theatre credits include playing in the ensemble in Glynn Nicholas' production of the Craig Christie and Andrew Patterson musical Eurobeat at the Novello Theatre in 2008.
When the production opened here at the Phoenix Theatre in June 2015, Henry Hitchings in the London Evening Standard hailed it as being "a joyous feelgood show... and you don't need to have seen the movie, or even be keen on football, to appreciate its warmth and freshness... there’s a rich humour throughout." Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph commented "that creator/ director Gurinder Chadha ensures the evening is a level playing field in terms of prior interest... all that's required is to watch what unfolds with an open mind and prepare to be transported and uplifted in a way that few British musicals manage to achieve." John Nathan in the London Metro thought that "the plot has an appeal much broader than footy... this uplifting musical version feels like a much-needed reminder that we can feel good about immigration... the show scores on wit and charm and bends a positive message about melting-pot Britain right into the top corner." Michael Billington in the Guardian described how "it has the same exuberant cheerfulness as the film... Howard Goodall's score is delightfully eclectic." Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail wrote "how wonderfully, life-affirmingly, 21st-century British it is... end-to-end entertainment, full of feisty shimmers and heart-stopping melodrama... the sheer fun of it is irresistible." Neil Norman in the Daily Express praised it as being "one of sunniest, funniest musicals I have seen in many a year... The ensemble dance number that opens the second half is viscerally exciting, with respect to choreographer Aletta Collins - and the casting is perfect." Ian Shuttleworth in the Financial Times described how "composer Howard Goodall is a master of musical idioms and knows how much or how little exotica to include in any given number without falling into pastiche. Charles Hart's lyrics are clever but never clever-clever, as befits the librettist of The Phantom of the Opera." Paul Taylor in the Independent highlighted that "this is the most irresistibly joyous musical-theatre makeover of a much-loved movie since Billy Elliot... And how rare and refreshing in this particular genre to find young characters who aspire to something different from breaking into show business. Another reason to welcome the piece in which Gurinder Chadha, director and co-author of the 2002 film, has masterminded a version that reinvents rather than recycles the material.... as an uplifting celebration of multi-cultural Britain, this show plays a blinder." Dominic Maxwell in the Times said: "She shoots ... she stages ... she scores! Gurinder Chadha, that is, the filmmaker who here converts the 2002 film that made her name into a winning stage musical... Then hang on for a more amusing, affecting, musically sophisticated and finally irresistible second half... it's mainstream yet knotty, funny yet tender, generous enough to make you happy to bend with its contrivances. Result."
"Fresh-faced Natalie Dew is Jess, a footie mad 18 year-old Sikh girl from Southall, who must put her love of the beautiful game on-the-line in order to tackle her parents' more traditional expectations. As her glamorous sister Pinky prepares for an extravagant wedding day and an accidental love affair blossoms with coach Joe the pressure mounts on Jess to call time on her dreams of being a professional footballer. Featuring a high-spirited female footballing ensemble, excellent choreography and a uniquely modern score, where hauntingly beautiful eastern vocals are matched with soaring western pop harmonies, this is one of the most original West End adaptions in years." The Sunday Mirror
The musical Bend It Like Beckham in London at the Phoenix Theatre previewed from 15 May 2015, opened on 24 June 2015, and closed on 5 March 2016.