- Adapted by the British Indian actress and an award-winning playwright, the production will make its North American premiere at the American Repertory Theater at Harvard University.
A stage version of Yann Martel’s bestselling adventure novel “Life of Pi,” which also inspired the Oscar-winning movie by director Ang Lee, is headed to Broadway. Adapted by British Indian actress and award-winning playwright Lolita Chakrabarti, the production is directed by Max Webster. Preview performances begin on March 9, 2023, at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre ahead of opening night on March 30. The Broadway casting will be announced shortly.
Similar to the book and movie, the play centers on 16-year-old Pi, who is stranded on a lifeboat with a hyena, zebra, orangutan and 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger after a cargo ship sinks in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. With time and nature working against them, they fight to survive the elements.
Simon Friend, Daryl Roth, Hal Luftig, Mark Gordon and Playing Field are producing the theatrical adaptation of “Life of Pi.” Max Webster is directing the play, with set and costume design by Tim Hatley, puppet and movement direction by Finn Caldwell, and puppet design by Nick Barnes and Finn Caldwell.
Chakravarti adapted the Booker Prize-winning novel for the stage in 2019 for London’s West End for which she won the award for Best New Play at the Olivier Awards 2022, UK Theatre Awards 2019, and WhatsonStage Awards 2019.
In a press release, she said adapting “Yann Martel’s modern classic” for the stage was “daunting, creatively, exciting, and always collaborative. To be able to tell this story the way I imagined it, to create the world using my references and viewpoint has been an extraordinary gift. And to see it resonate with young and old audience members alike has been humbling.” She described it as “a beautiful, visceral, magical show, a story of survival which all of us can fundamentally relate to after the effects of the pandemic.”
Before its Broadway debut, “Life of Pi” will make its North American premiere at the American Repertory Theater at Harvard University, where it will play from Dec. 4 through Jan. 29, 2023. It is currently running in London’s West End, where it won five Olivier Awards including best new play, scenic design and lighting design. In a first for the Olivier Awards, the seven performers who play Royal Bengal tiger ‘Richard Parker’ were collectively awarded best actor in a supporting role.
Chakravarti’s debut play “Red Velvet” opened at the Tricycle Theatre, London, before transferring to St Ann’s Warehouse in New York and then to London’s West End as part of Sir Kenneth Branagh’s inaugural season at The Garrick Theatre. It earned her several awards including the Evening Standard Charles Wintour Award for Most Promising Playwright 2012. The play is now on the Drama syllabus for A level, is studied at universities in the U.K. and the U.S. and there have been over 20 professional productions in the U.S. and beyond, including at the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington in June 2022. Her other writing credits include “Hymn” (Almeida Theatre/Sky Arts); an adaptation of Italo Calvino’s “Invisible Cities” (Manchester International Festival and Brisbane Festival); and “Stones of Venice, “a VR film for New Vision Arts Festival in Hong Kong, among others.