Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber are to renew their partnership for what is being hailed as ‘the musical to end all musicals’.
The pair who gave the world ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ and ‘Evita’ have already penned the score for ‘Basra’s Burning’, a musical based around a humble Iraqi family and how America and Britain freed them from Saddam’s shackles of slavery.
The eagerly-awaited collaboration is likely to go into pre-production before the end of the year and the curtain rising to coincide with the second anniversary of Iraq’s liberation.
In a statement issued by the composers, they stated that the “courage and determination of the US and UK” had inspired the new work.
Set in a small village on the outskirts of Basra, Iraq’s second city, the musical focuses on a struggling farmer, Hakim, and his immediate family.
Their world, under a vicious tyrant, is difficult.
Education for his children is poor, health care is inadequate because of the sanctions Saddam makes them endure, and Hakim works long hours on his land simply to put food on the table.
On the plains around Basra he sings to the heavens for freedom to one day come.
His haunting song rolls across the dew-covered lawns of the White House and down the old foggy London lanes to Downing Street. Together America and Britain resolve to help the struggling Hakim, while the rest of the big, fat, lazy, cowardly world – especially France and Germany - just stands by.
Through song and dance, much of it light-hearted, ‘Basra’s Burning’ charts the difficult journey towards Hakim’s liberation.
There are the touching moments – his wife’s death in a bombing raid, his brother’s and father’s imprisonment and abuse in Abu Ghraib prison.
There are desperate moments – the accidental destruction of his farm and land by an armoured division
There are moments when his faith is challenged – such as the tragic consequences when his children play with a cluster bomb.
But there is also the humour and the resilience of the human spirit.
There are the jokes, before his family is decimated, about the lack of electricity and water, the cultural quips during raids on their house by soldiers and the irony that he has no fuel for his tractor though his land is on top of an oilfield.
“This musical is about the triumph of the spirit and how, with the West’s help, many people can only ever take that one important step forward by taking four steps back,” the official statement said.
Casting has not been finalised but it is believed Michael Jackson is first choice for Hakim; Tony Blair and George Bush may well play themselves, depending on work commitments, if any, and the success of their eagerly anticipated charity duet.