Gay cowboy tale for the stage

Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger in Ang Lee’s three-time Oscar-winner, Brokeback Mountain, released in 2005.

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BY BILLY SUTER

AFTER two years of discussion and planning, a stage version of the Oscar-winning 2005 film Brokeback Mountain, originally set for London’s West End in 2016, is back on track.

It has been reported that on August 1, London producer Tom O’Connell started a new workshop for the theatre version of the 1997 short story by Annie Proulx, a drama about two young, Wyoming cowboys engaged in a long, secret love affair,

Prouix’s story inspired the hit movie which, directed by Ang Lee, teamed Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal as the cowboys. Also featuring Anne Hathaway and Michelle Williams, the film was nominated for eight Oscars, including Best Picture, an award it lost to Crash.

Brokeback Mountain’s Oscar wins were for best director, best adapted screenplay and best original score. The movie also took the coveted Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival and scooped awards for best film and best director at the British Academy Film Awards, the Golden Globe Awards, the Producers’ Guild of America Awards, the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards and the Independent Spirit Awards, among others, reports Wikipedia.

O’Connell tweeted about the fact that the play was back on track, although no report has mentioned a reason for the delay. The show’s official Twitter account also recently posted a picture of the first draft of the script, featuring two saddles, side by side on a wooden post, as the cover picture.

The planned opening and venue for the new play has still to be announced, along with the cast and creative team.

Tom O’Connell Productions’ website states that in 2013 O’Connell produced the critically acclaimed and award-winning production of another gay-themed play, Jonathan Harvey’s Beautiful Thing, starring Suranne Jones. The side adds that that production marked the play’s 20th anniversary and is now available to download across the world as a HD filmed play, in partnership with DigitalTheatre.com

O’Connell trained as a producer at Fiery Angel LLP, funded by the Stage One new producers scheme, working on such successes as The 39 Steps (London Criterion season and UK Tour); The Ladykillers (London Gielgud season and UK Tour); and Ben-Hur with four actors (Newbury Playhouse/The Watermill).

According to his website, he also worked on the Olivier Award-winning Goodnight Mister Tom (Phoenix – West End and UK tour); Swallows & Amazons (Vaudeville – West End and UK tour); Peppa Pig Live (Criterion – West End and UK tour); and Ben & Hilly’s Little Kingdom Live (UK tour).

Meanwhile, note that Playbill has reported that New York City Opera is planning to present the American premiere of Charles Wuorinen’s operatic adaptation of Brokeback Mountain at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater later this year or early next. The world premiere of the opera was held in Madrid in 2014.


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