He is joined by a cast of equally good looking Italian actors and, adding gravitas and maturity, well known American actor Michael Nouri (NCIS, Damages, Flashdance) as narrator. This musical, inspired by Herman Hesse’s novel, was first developed as an inmate rehabilitation programme in Milan’s maximum security prison, and has since toured Italy and the USA – minus the original prisoner/actors of course!
Prince Siddartha lives a comfortable and sheltered life within the walls of his father’s palace – he has everything material that anyone could want but spiritually he feels lacking and he vows to embark on a quest to find enlightenment. His parents and girlfriend try to persuade him to stay since outside the palace walls there is only suffering, growing old and death. He pleads with them to “let me out of this prison”, a statement which must have struck a chord with the original cast, and eventually they relent.
He sets off on his journey and, through a number of encounters and experiences, eventually learns the secret of life and enlightenment. He learns prayer from a holy man, love from the beautiful Kamala, moneymaking from the merchant and wisdom from the boatman. In the end, he finds that the answer lies within us and around us – “tutto e dentro di noi e intorno di noi”. Living in joy and serenity is what will bring us happiness, again a good message to give to maximum security prisoners!
It is all sung and acted in Italian with English surtitles on each side of the stage and the narration is also in English so no need to worry that you won’t understand it. At times it is a bit like watching Italian TV with the colourful costumes and cheesy pop songs and dance routines. Overall though, the exuberance of the players and the sheer spectacle of it all makes for an entertaining hour.