Page last updated at 16:46 GMT, Thursday, 6 November 2008

Ben-Hur stage show set for London

Charlton Heston
The late Charlton Heston played Judah Ben-Hur in the movie

A stage production of the epic Charlton Heston film Ben-Hur is to open next year in London's O2 Arena, marking the movie's 50th anniversary.

The highlight of the show, about the life and destiny of the Jewish prince, will include the famous chariot scene.

The production will require 400 performers and 100 animals including horses, donkeys, chickens and eagles.

Creator Franz Abraham said the show would have a "high level of artistry that would excite the audience".

He added: "The show will have the speed of a musical, the depth of great theatre, the power of a rock concert and the visual opulence of a Hollywood blockbuster."

The thoroughbred horses will undergo 12 months of intensive training with a team of trainers and charioteers.

A combination of light, sound, water, wind and pyrotechnic effects will also be used.

However, it is not the first time that the Hollywood epic has been recreated live.

Two years ago, a French production played to 300,000 people at Paris's Stade de France.

And scenes from the book, written by American civil war general Lew Wallace, were often performed in theatrical spectacles in the early 20th Century.

Tickets for the new production will go on sale on 14 November, with the world premiere taking place at the O2 15 September, 2009.

After two further performances in London, the show will tour Europe.

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