March 30, 2017 – July 16, 2017
Monsoon Wedding has been the receiver of all my energy, love, and attention for the past three and a half months. Having been part of almost every stage to transform the 2001 hit movie into a grand musical, I think I’ve learned a thing or two about the development of art and finally reaching a level of excellence. The process has opened my eyes to the realities of the world of theatre, a world I’d like to share with you.
How did Monsoon Wedding: the Musical come to be?
Released in 2001, the story of Monsoon Wedding first reached the audiences of the world in a movie directed by Mira Nair. With the immensely positive and enthusiastic reviews it received, Monsoon Wedding was instantly deemed a hit, gaining a Gold Lion award and a Golden Globe nomination. 2014 saw Nair take an opportunity to turn her hit movie into a musical. It began its journey to the stage in New York workshops, where Nair was able to play with Sabrina Dhawan’s script, Vishal Bhardwaj’s music, and different sets of actors. Finally in June of 2016, it was confirmed that the musical would be making its world premiere at the Berkeley Rep Theatre.
How did I come to be a part of Monsoon Wedding?
On April 13, 2016, I attended an open call that family friends had told me about. I wasn’t sure what I was auditioning for, but as a huge fan of Mira Nair and Vishal Bhardwaj, my dad budged me to go. So, I did. I went into the audition room, sung my heart out, and I was called back in the next day. I did some more line reading, and before I knew it, I was called to audition for Mira Ji (“Ji” is a term used in Indian culture to show respect, especially to elders) in Berkeley. So, on April 25, 2016, a day after my fourteenth birthday, my parents and I drove to Berkeley. When I arrived, I hadn’t rehearsed my song once nor had I warmed up, and to make matters worse, the power had gone out! In the fifteen minute wait time, I prepared myself as fast as I could and hoped for the best. As I walked into the dark room, I was so nervous that I barely talked about myself and went straight to the singing, taking a moment to breathe before belting out my song. After what felt like a moment in time, my performance was over and across from me was one of the world’s most influential directors in utter tears. I remember being completely stunned, but so elated at the same time. She then asked me a little more about myself, and now that I was slightly less shaky, I could actually speak. I spoke about my theatre experiences, my passion for singing, and even my celebrity crush, Jake T. Austin, who played Max in Wizards of Waverly Place! The things you say when the adrenaline is rushing through your body! Mira Ji and Tony Taccone, artistic director of Berkeley Rep, laughed this embarrassing moment off and let me out of the room. A couple days later, the casting director emailed my mom, saying that I was cast for Monsoon Wedding’s workshop in the summer of 2016. Missing the last day of 8th grade, I went to New York with my whole family and worked from 10 am to 6pm everyday with the whole team of the show. I met Vishal Bhardwaj, much to my father’s excitement, and the other amazing people of the creative team. I met and bonded with the rest of the cast, who taught me so much and gave me a taste of what it’s like to be a professional in the business. After the workshop and my return home, I was singing the songs every moment of every day. I was completely in love with Monsoon Wedding! However, after what seemed like a victorious experience, I didn’t get an email from the Monsoon Wedding team until late September. I was asked to send in tapes again and this time, so was my eleven year old sister. In February of 2017, my sister and I auditioned for Mira Ji in person. Again, I sung with all my might, using my love for the show as a way to conjure the emotions of the song and convince them to choose me. On February 24, 2017, an email arrived saying that I was cast for the show’s Berkeley Rep world premiere. Rehearsals started on March 30, and since then, I’ve gotten more than a taste of what it’s like to be a professional, I’ve gotten possibly the hugest mouthful. I’ve learned to dance, to do crazy vocal riffs, to fake-cry, to do my own stage makeup, to give good first impressions, to hold conversations, and most importantly, to spread love. Now that the show’s almost two month run is over, I am facing an incredible amount of separation anxiety and heartache, for this has been the most wonderful and extraordinary adventure of my life.