Umm Kulthum
& the Golden Era

Written by Mona Khashoggi

At the turn of the 20th Century, a young girl is born in the Egyptian Delta, from humble beginnings she becomes the ‘Star of the Orient’, shining her talent over Egypt and the whole Arab speaking world. Umm Kulthum. Born into relative poverty, her father recognises her musical ability at a young age, disguising her as a young boy so she can use her talent to feed the family – a talent so great that all convention is broken and Umm Kulthum is mentored by the best composers and writers of the era to become a legend. Jealousy leads to a libellous scandal that nearly derails all of her hopes and dreams. She sacrifices true love for her legacy, but what a legacy she left!

Acting Dialogue in English

Singing in Arabic

Suitable for Age 7+

Mona’s vision

“My dream is to stage a Middle Eastern Musical in London’s West End and for it to travel to Europe, the Arab World and ultimately to Broadway, New York. Umm Kulthum will be a show that celebrates the life and works of Umm Kulthum, a woman who became a living legend capable of surviving not just shifts in musical taste, but also revolutions and changes in leadership. My love and respect for this woman who rose to international stardom from a humble background as the daughter of the village sheikh in the Egyptian Delta, is both professional and personal; she was a friend of my father’s, travelling with him to Paris and Vienna and when she died, my family grieved as though we’d lost a family member.

Like millions of others, her songs have been a source of comfort and passion throughout my life, connected to memories of the family home in Saudi as a child, on picnics in Lebanon as a teenager as well as driving through the English countryside listening to her music as a mother. Known by many terms of endearment, she was the Star of the Orient, the Peoples’ Singer, Egypt’s 4th Pyramid; a woman who demonstrated what could be possible for anyone with ambition and strength. I wish with Umm Kulthum to create a musical theatre tribute that will be heard and seen by more generations to come.”

An email from an appreciative person in the audience
London Palladium, 2nd March 2020

Dear Miss Mona,
I hope you are in the best of health.
My wife and I are from Iraq.  My wife is from Hilla and I from Basra. We were fortunate enough to discover the show when my wife searched for a middle eastern/arabic event on Google. She saw it on the LW Theatres website.  We live in Kent, just outside London.
If I may, my wife and I keenly await your next production. Your efforts are truely appreciated. Our only regret is that we didn’t bring our children to your show. However, they have been listening to songs by Umm Kathum every day since the show.  Your events will help instill in our children an appreciation for the beauty of middle eastern history and culture.
I do apologise for the long email, but if I may say this – I was truely moved when I discovered that the wonderful Miss Lubana Al Quntar was performing.  I appreciate you might think it trivial, but my grandfather owned a number of theatres in Baghdad and he organised  number of performances there.  Our family’s prized possessions include  pictures of my grandfather with Farid Al Atrash in Baghdad (this is in the 1950’s). Miss Lubana’s family epitomises the best of middle eastern culture and art, and it is a little reminder of my family’s better days.  Thank you.
Kind regards,
Tariq Al-Mallak