In Turkish poetry, the word "kalubela" is said to refer to true love. It is a fitting title, then, for a new Dubai-based production that borrows elements of the world-famous Cirque du Soleil and explores the theme of love.
Presented by The First Group Theatre, in collaboration with the Dubai-based The Fridge music management company, the show promises a singing, dancing and aerial extravaganza from tomorrow until Saturday at Souk Madinat Jumeirah.
Up in the air
The cabaret-inspired show features eight diverse singers backed by "sizzling" dancers and an 11-piece live band. A few surprises are also in store in the form of unusual aerial performances.
"Audiences should expect something fresh and artistically creative, while being whole-heartedly entertained," says Shelley Frost, the founder of The Fridge and the director of Kalubela. "It's absolutely unique in that the cast are full-time professional artists, locally based."
A total of 50 cast and crew make up the production, which also includes hit songs such as Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime by Dean Martin, Nancy and Frank Sinatra's Something Stupid and Show Me How You Burlesque by Christina Aguilera.
The significance of producing a show of this scale is "enormous", according to Frost, because it paves the way for taking artistic risks to then create something new. "The show itself also takes a well-known genre and turns it slightly on its head," says Frost. "It means a great deal of sacrifice and commitment from all of those involved, both cast and production, to create a theatre production of this scale."
Naughty but nice
For the vocalist Lisa Theunissen, who plays a career-driven showgirl, the chance to take part in this production came as a "blessing".
"I'm [playing] the independent, naughty-but-nice girl," she says. "The character is certainly not shy to express who she is and what she likes, often frowned upon by traditional wives and mothers. However, there is a part of her longing for a man to take her for all she is."
To bring the magic to the stage, the technical team have also pulled out all the stops with plenty of care and prior preparation ensured by both cast and crew.
"Visualise the most beautiful and soulful voices, incredible dancers and talented musicians all sparkling on one stage put together by the most brilliant production team in the Gulf," she says. "Everything Shelley does is for each artist; helping them develop and shine musically. I am very passionate about the music, script and theatrical extravaganza of Kalubela."
A perfect platform
Another performer, who goes by the stage name Kerrie-Anne, plays a number of characters ranging from a stereotypical lady of leisure to a woman deeply in love with her soulmate. She is confident the production will successfully whisk audiences off to Broadway.
"Kalubela is a show based on love; ranging from a pure, sacrificial and unrivalled love to a lustful, superficial and whimsical variation," says Kerrie-Anne.
For artists such as herself, Kerrie-Anne says the production has already provided them with an opportunity for self-expression and rewarding personal gratification.
"It's a chance for Dubai to celebrate and be proud of its varied local talent. We each have a desire to thrive in Dubai's music scene and would welcome further opportunities that enable this," she says.
To create the perfect cast, Frost says they searched for great voices and outstanding stage presence - performers who could complement each other while also remaining individually powerful.
Highlights of the night will include "a never-to-be-forgotten divalicious scene featuring all of the seven female leads in a fabulous version of Hey Big Spender" and a different spin on favourite hits such as All That Jazz.
The show starts at 7pm tomorrow and Saturday and at 8pm on Thursday and Friday. Tickets cost Dh185 and are available at the Box Office, Souk Madinat Jumeirah and online at www.timeoutdubai.com