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Freej goes to the theater

Freej goes to the theater

Lammtara announced that a stage production of Freej, the UAE’s first homegrown animated series, will begin on January 8.

December 9, 2008 10:31 by



It’s like the Spice Girls all over again. Those funny little women with annoying voices are going to be on the stage. Lammtara, the company behind the animated television series Freej, announced last month that in partnership with Dubai-based production company JBM (it’s based in the office next door) they will produce Freej Folklore, which they are touting as “the largest Arab theatrical production in the Middle East.”

The show’s nine-day run at Dubai’s Madinat Jumeirah, starting on January 8, is part of the Dubai Shopping Festival, and is sponsored by property developer Nakheel.

Mohammed Saeed Harib, Lammtara’s founder and the production’s director, calls Freej Folklore “a breathtaking combination of dance, music, animation and theater that presents the audience with a magnificent celebration of Arab culture and history.”

One insider simply called it, “the Arabic Riverdance.”

Benjamin Monie, the co-founder of JBM and the executive producer of the show, says, “Freej Folklore is a mix of live, virtual, animation, film, light and acrobatic performance.”

More than 300 people are involved in Folklore’s production, with dancers flown in from France. Asked about the show’s claim to be the biggest Arabic stage production, Harib says, “It’s not about how much we are spending – although I’m pretty sure we are spending the most [of any stage show in the region]. It’s about the technical staff, and the cast and the ensemble, if you include the cartoon characters. Let’s not forget them.”

He says that although nothing is concrete, the team behind Freej Folklore would like to take the show on the road after its run in Dubai.

“If people are not coming here, we will take the show to them,” he says. “I think it is a great advertising show for Dubai and the region.”

Fortifying the comparison with Michael Flatley’s Irish step dancing show Riverdance, Harib says, “Every time I go to a country, I realize that every country has its own show that is running all year round and introduces you to the culture.”

Perhaps the world could be introduced to the UAE’s culture through a troupe of French dancers and four squat, animated grannies in burqas. –AA

First seen in Communicate magazine.



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