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Canadian lands role in Flaming Lips musical

Paul Nolan portrays Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ont.

David Hou/AP

Canadian actor Paul Nolan has snagged a lead role in one of the most hotly anticipated musicals premiering in the United States this season – the Flaming Lips' Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.

Nolan, who recently had his Broadway debut starring in the Stratford Shakespeare Festival's production of Jesus Christ Superstar, will play the role of graphic designer Ben Nickel in the production that is set to play at California's La Jolla Playhouse in November and has its sights set on New York.

Des McAnuff, who is directing and co-writing what is expected to be an entirely unorthodox and outside-the-box show, says the Saskatchewan native impressed Lips front man Wayne Coyne in his performance as Jesus. "As you know, Paul's a remarkably talented singer and actor – and he also happens to be a spectacular dancer," McAnuff says. "We'll try and get him to strut his stuff."

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Based on a 2002 album of the same name by the Flaming Lips, a cult space-rock band from Oklahoma known for its theatrical concerts, the stage adaptation of Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots was first announced five years ago. The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin was initially attached to the project, but is no longer involved.

According to an audition notice posted in July, the rock musical's plot concerns Yoshimi, "a visual artist and later a Freedom Fighter" who becomes involved in a war between two boyfriends, Ben and Booker. It is "a magical story that takes place in the modern world and simultaneously on a science-fiction landscape where there is an army of pink robots."

Full casting for Yoshimi will be officially announced later this week, a spokesperson for the La Jolla Playhouse said.

Meanwhile, speaking with The Globe and Mail, McAnuff revealed that another important role has recently been filled in his life. On Aug. 22, the outgoing artistic director of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival wed his long-time partner, Bryna McCann, in the Maldives.

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Theatre critic

J. Kelly Nestruck is The Globe's theatre critic. More


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