A stage adaptation of Ang Lee's 2005 Academy Award-winning film Brokeback Mountain is headed to London this spring.
The neo-Western romantic film was based on the eponymous short story by Annie Proulx in 1997 and starred Jake Gyllenhaal as Jack Twist and the late Heath Ledger as Ennis Del Mar.
The plot centered around the two cowboys hired to herd sheep on the grazing Wyoming mountain pastures through the summer of 1963 and awaken a deep physical passion for each other and eventually fall in love in spite of their marriages to women.
The Instagram account for the @sohoplace Theater in the West End posted the announcement of the play featuring lead actors Lucas Hedges as Del Mar and Mike Faist as Twist.
Both are making their West End debut in the production.
Hedges was nominated for a Golden Globe in the gay conversion therapy drama Boy Erased, and Faist was nominated for the BAFTA award for his performance as Riff in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.
The stage version of Brokeback Mountain is written by Ashley Robinson and directed by Everybody’s Talking About Jamie director Jonathan Butterell.
The limited engagement run starting from May 10 through August 12 is produced by Nica Burns with Adam Blanshay Productions, Lambert Jackson Productions, and Katy Lipson for Aria Entertainment.
The London production is billed as a play with music but will not be a traditional musical with choreographed musical numbers.
Instead of the main characters singing, the play will feature songs by Dan Gillespie Sells to be performed by singer/songwriter Eddi Reader.
In a statement, Robinson said the decision to add songs to the play helped to:
“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”.
Future audience members are already booking their tickets to London.
Robinson told Variety:
“I’m honored 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.”
Burns, noted that the stage play will focus on:
“...the relationship between our two lead characters with Eddi Reader’s memorable voice adding to the heartbreak as the soundtrack of their lives."
"To have Mike Faist and Lucas Hedges, two outstanding young American actors playing Jack and Ennis is a real coup.”
Hedges first caught moviegoers and critics' attention for his performance as Patrick Chandler in 2016’s Manchester by the Sea.
In addition to playing a queer teen who is sent by his parents to a "conversion therapy" camp in Boy Erased, Hedges also starred in other critically-acclaimed films like Lady Bird and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
Before leading the Jets in Spielberg's 2021 West Side Story remake, Faist kickstarted his career on the stage originating the role of Morris Delancey in the 2012 Broadway cast of Newsies.
Five years later, he was nominated for a Tony for his portrayal of Connor Murphy in the 2015 Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen, starring Ben Platt.
Fans of Hedges and Faist can't wait to gallop into the @sohoplace Theater in May.
Here's a trailer for the original 2005 movie.
Brokeback Mountain 2005 Trailer HD | Jake Gyllenhaal | Heath Ledgeryoutu.be
Butterell, the play's director, 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.”
When Brokeback Mountain was released in theaters in 2005, it was a major turning point for the advancement of queer cinema and was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."
It also was a huge commercial success. With an original budget of $14 million, Brokeback Mountain grossed over $178 million worldwide.
Ledger and Gyllenhaal were also praised for their nuanced, yet powerfully emotional performances, by critics and filmgoers.
The critical consensus on Rotten Tomatoes, which gave the movie an 87% approval rating, described the LGBTQ-themed film as:
"A beautifully epic Western, Brokeback Mountain's love story is imbued with heartbreaking universality, helped by moving performances by Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal."
Brokeback Mountain was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar and won Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Original Score at the 78th Academy Awards.