LIFE OF PI in the West End announces new cast and releases 100,000 tickets for final booking period
It was announced today that 100,000 new tickets have been released for the final booking period of the West End production of Life of Pi.
Lolita Chakrabarti’s dazzling stage adaptation of Yann Martel’s award-winning book starring award-winning Oliver actor Hiran Abeysekera as Pi alongside a life-size puppet of the Royal Bengal Tiger has now been extended to to 15 January 2023, the show’s final performance at Wyndham’s Theater in London, where the production will have run nearly 500 performances.
Nuwan Hugh Perera, who is currently the alternate Pi, will reprise the title role on September 7, 2022 with Chirag Benedict Lobo joining the cast as the new alternate Pi. Other new cast members joining in September are: Davina Moon as Ma, Ameet Chana as Father, Tanvi Virmani as Rani, Saikat Ahamad as Mamaji/Pandit-Ji, Sakuntala Ramanee as Ms. Biology Kumar/Zaida Khan, Kevin Shen as Mr. Okamoto, Phyllis Ho as Lulu Chen, Kazeem Tosin Amore as Cook/Voice of Richard Parker, Owain Gwynn as Puppeteer and Understudy Lilian Tsang and Mohit Mathur. The original West End cast members remaining in the show from September 7 are: Tom Espiner (Father Martin/Commander Grant-Jones) and puppeteers: Daisy Franks, Romina Hytten, Tom Larkin, Chris Milford and Tom Stacy.
Future plans for the show include a North American premiere from December 2022 to January 2023 at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as well as a planned transfer to Broadway and separate productions in Asia, Australia and Mexico.
Producer Simon Friend said: “Our magical production of Life of Pi is getting better and better. We are delighted to release an additional 100,000 tickets for our final West End booking period, and look forward to welcoming new cast members in September. We are also excited to introduce North American production later this year. The response to this show continues to be overwhelming and we look forward to welcoming audiences to witness Pi’s journey of a lifetime to the West End and beyond.
Life of Pi received his five Olivier Awards at a ceremony held at the Royal Albert Hall in London in April 2022. In addition to Best New Play, Hiran Abeysekera won Best Actor for his central performance as Pi, and – in a historic first for the Olivier Awards – the seven performers who play “Richard Parker”, the puppet tiger – Fred Davis, Daisy Franks, Romina Hytten, Tom Larkin, Habib Nasib Nader, Tom Stacy and Scarlet Wilderink – collectively received the Best Supporting Actor award. The production also won awards for set design (Tim Hatley, Nick Barnes and Finn Caldwell) and lighting design (Tim Lutkin and Andrzej Goulding).
The current cast will continue until September 4, 2022 with Hiran Abeysekera in the central role of Pi, Mina Anwar as Ma, Nicholas Khan as Father, Payal Mistry as Rani, Tom Espiner as Father Martin/ Commander Grant-Jones, Raj Ghatak as Mamaji/ Pandit-Ji, Syreeta Kumar as Ms Biology Kumar/ Zaida Khan, David KS Tse as Mr Okamoto, Kirsten Foster as Lulu Chen, Habib Nasib Nader as as cook/voice of Richard Parker.
Tiger’s puppeteers are: Fred Davis (Tiger Head), Daisy Franks (Tiger Hind), Owain Gwynn (Tiger Head), Romina Hytten (Tiger Heart), Tom Larkin (Tiger Head), Tom Stacy (Tiger Hind), Chris Milford ( Tiger Hind) and Scarlet Wilderink (Tiger Heart). Nuwan Hugh Perera is Pi’s replacement and the stunt doubles are Alex Chang, Omar Khan and Deeivya Meir.
Production is directed by Max Webster, set and costume designer is Tim Hatley, puppet and motion director is Finn Caldwell, puppet designers are Nick Barnes and Finn Caldwell, video designer is Andrzej Goulding, designer lighting designer is Tim Lutkin, sound designer is Carolyn Downing, composer is Andrew T Mackay, dramaturgy is by Jack Bradley, casting director is Polly Jerrold, associate director is Leigh Toney, associate set designer is Ross Edwards , the associate puppet designer is Caroline Bowman, the costume supervisor is Sabrina Cuniberto, and the props supervisor is Ryan O’Conner.
Based on one of the most beloved works of fiction – Man Booker Prize winner, selling over fifteen million copies worldwide – Life of Pi is a breathtaking new theatrical adaptation of an epic journey of endurance and hope.
After a freighter sinks in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean, there are five survivors stranded on a single lifeboat – a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan, a sixteen-year-old boy and a royal Bengal tiger from 450 pounds. Time is against them, nature is hard, who will survive?
The works of award-winning writer Yann Martel include The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios (1993), Self (1996), We Ate the Children Last (2004), Beatrice and Virgil (2010) – a New York Times bestseller and a best book from the Financial Times, 101 Letters to the Prime Minister (2012) – a collection of letters to the Prime Minister of Canada; and The High Mountains of Portugal (2016).
Lolita Chakrabarti OBE is an award-winning playwright and actress. His writing credits include: Red Velvet which opened at London’s Tricycle Theater in 2012, returning in 2014 before moving to New York and the West End; Red Velvet has been nominated for nine major awards, including two Olivier Awards. Lolita won the Evening Standard Theater Award for Most Promising Playwright, the Critics Circle Award for Most Promising Playwright, and the AWA Award for Arts and Culture; She adapted Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino for the MIF in 2019 in collaboration with 59Productions and Rambert; his play Hymn was broadcast live in February 2021 from the Almeida, before opening to the public later in July; she was playwright on Message in a Bottle for ZooNation and Sadler’s Wells; she curated The Greatest Wealth for Old Vic, a series of monologues marking the 70th anniversary of the NHS. Acting credits include: Vigil, The Casual Vacancy (BBC), Riviera, Delicious (Sky), Born to Kill, My Mad Fat Diary (Ch4), Criminal (Netflix), Fanny and Alexander (The Old Vic), Hamlet (RADA). We will soon be able to see her in Showtrial for the BBC and Wheel of Time for Amazon Prime.
Max Webster was Baylis’s first manager at the Old Vic and is now associate director at the theater where his work includes Fanny and Alexander, Cover My Tracks and Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax. Other selected stage works include The Merry Widow (ENO), The Jungle Book (Northampton/Fiery Angel UK tour), The Winter’s Tale (Lyceum, Edinburgh) and King Lear (Royal and Derngate, Northampton/UK tour).
The Extraordinary Animals are brought to life by director of puppetry and movement, Finn Caldwell, who began his career in the original company of the National Theatre’s international phenomenon War Horse. He is the artistic director of his own company Gyre & Gimble, for which he works notably: co-director/puppet designer of The Four Seasons: A Reimagining (Shakespeare’s Globe), The Hartlepool Monkey (UK tour) and The Elephantom (National Theater & West End). His other work includes: puppet/movement director for Angels in America (National Theater & Broadway), The Light Princess (National Theatre), War Horse (West End & International) and Groundhog Day (Old Vic & Broadway).
Life of Pi is produced by Simon Friend in association with Playing Field and Tulchin/Bartner.
Photo credit: Johan Persson