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The Alchemist heads for Islington's Pleasance Theatre



Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

FOLLOWING its 30-venue UK tour, the first English stage version of Brazilian author Paulo Coelho's best-selling novel, The Alchemist, opens at Islington's Pleasance Theatre on May 9, 2005 (previews from May 6) for a limited period only - until June 19, 2005.

The Alchemist, which was first published in Spanish in 1988, has been translated into 56 languages, including English in 1993 and is listed among the BBC's 100 Big Reads.

It's the story of a shepherd boy and his quest for his dream - a quest that takes him through the colourful bazaars of Tangiers and across the Egyptian desert.

And it's a story that has captured the imagination of readers worldwide, with 30 million copies of the novel sold to date.

A small-scale production of this same stage adaptation by the Cornish Theatre Collective, was first seen in 2002 at London's Finborough Theatre.

It has since been updated with new staging designed by Patrick and Suki Haughton and music specially written by Phil Innes - some of which will be played live by cast members. Aerial puppetry comes courtesy of Paul Antonelli.

The Alchemist will be directed by Dominic Knutton and will feature Maria Fernanda Guirao, Lauren Hassan-Leslie, TJ Holmes, David Kershaw and Mario Vernazza.

And for those who have enjoyed The Alchemist, Coelho's latest novel, The Zahir, is due for publication in the UK on June 6, 2005.

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