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'Chariots of Fire' is West End-bound, coinciding with Olympics

April 18, 2012|By David Ng
  • A scene from the 1981 Oscar-winning movie "Chariots of Fire."
A scene from the 1981 Oscar-winning movie "Chariots of Fire." (Warner Bros. )

With its iconic scene of Olympic athletes running on the beach to a pulsating Vangelis score, "Chariots of Fire" is making a well-timed comeback, only this time as a play.

The 1981 movie, which won the Oscar for best picture, is being adapted for the stage and is set to open this summer inLondon's West End, just in time for the Summer Games.

The play is scheduled to open first in May at the Hampstead Theatre before transferring to the Gielgud Theatre on June 22.  (It should be noted that John Gielgud had a cameo role in the original movie, playing the master of Trinity College.)

"Chariots" centers on the true stories of Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams, who competed for Britain as runners in the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris. Liddell was a Scottish missionary who refused to compete on the Sabbath; Abrahams was Jewish and trained with an unconventional coach named Sam Mussabini.

The play is written by Mike Bartlett and is adapted from the original screenplay by Colin Welland. Edward Hall is directing the stage production. Among the play's West End producers is Hugh Hudson, who directed the movie.

Jack Lowden will play Liddell and James McArdle is set to play Abrahams. In the movie, the roles were played by Ian Charleson and Ben Cross, respectively.

It remains to be seen if and how the stage drama will reenact the movie's famous running-on-the-beach sequence. Fans of the film will be pleased to learn that the original Vangelis score -- which also won an Oscar -- will be used in the play, according to the Hampstead Theatre's website.

In case you want to relive that much-loved (and much-parodied) cinematic moment, here it is:

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