THE RAJAH'S SON & PRINCESS LABAM to Open Off-Broadway this Fall
Indian-American singer/songwriter, actress and lawyer Nishi Rajan is now adding Director and Producer to her resume of accomplishments. This Fall 2014, she is producing the first musical of its kind in New York City: an Indian musical she wrote called 'The Rajah's Son & Princess Labam.' The show will open November 7th, 2014 Off-Broadway at the Medicine Show Theatre on 52nd Street and will run for three weeks.
With a cast of 35 actors, Nishi plans to showcase the beauty of Indian culture, Indian life, folktale, music and dance and bring to New York City and its residents a musical like its never seen before.
Part comedy and part drama, and set in ancient India, 'Nishi's The Rajah's Son & Princess Labam' is a tale of soulmates: a young Prince named Kiran, the Rajah's Son, and his childhood sweetheart, the Princess Labam. Separated as children by a great war that tears apart India, twenty years later, the Prince and Princess reunite to save Kiran's father who has been poisoned, defeat the evil Hindu Gods Dharmendra and Durga and save all the Kingdoms of India.
The musical and its production is being filmed for a weekly reality tv documentary series by New York City film director Zach De'Epey. Filming began during auditions in early August and will showcase the struggles involved with bringing to life a large independent non-union Indian musical to the Off-Broadway world of New York City.
The musical will have original music produced by Nishi Rajan, part American-pop and part Indian-dance, with Indian dance (Bharatanatyam) choreography by Bina Kalpesh and Vaishali Choudhary. Fight scenes and stage combat choreography by Alex Kabiri. Live music will be provided by members of Nishi's band, the Nights, with guitar accompaniment by Ari Reiser.
Written by Nishi Rajan in 2010, Nishi's 'The Rajah's Son & Princess Labam: An Indian Musical Fairytale' is an original story and musical play loosely based off a very old Indian folktale found in the edited collections of Joseph Jacob's Indian Fairy tales published in 1912. The original story, 'How The Rajah's Son Won the Princess Labam' is a children's folktale of a young prince who is forbidden to go to the kingdom of Princess Labam. Nevertheless, he sets off on a journey of discovery through a forest where he saves injured animals, discovers magical items, all of which help him to win the hand of Princess Labam.
Nishi's "The Rajah's Son & Princess Labam" incorporates the original fairy tale elements, but changes it up and adds in all new elements, creates a vast diaspora of characters including a wizard, Hindu Gods, an adopted brother and best friend and it is more adult. The musical is predominantly a comedic drama, safe for families and children, but the story does involve adult topics of love, lust and sex, and touches on adultery. There is a scene in which the evil Durga fools the Prince Kiran into thinking she is Princess Labam and seduces him. Princess Labam walks in to find her true love in apparent betrayal. Durga herself, the story reveals, while once a simple human woman, found her husband in bed with another woman and this causes her to attempt suicide. She is stopped by Dharmendra, who understands her pain and saves her and changes her into the Hindu Goddess Durga.
The darker elements of war and human struggles are offset by the wide comedy, humour and magic brought by the characters of Lord Anuj and King Suresh, as well as Princess Labam's many sisters whom her father, King Suresh, had to raise all by himself. "Why couldn't I have just one boy?", he asks in one scene when his daughters, ranging in age from 6 to 23, are all falling in love with boys and little Lola asks him about the birds and the bees.
At essence, Nishi's The Rajah's Son & Princess Labam is a tale of true love and redemption. At the end of the tale, the Gods are redeemed and healed by love and families reunited. It is a story of seeing the good in people, even where life and its struggles have changed people from good to bad.
Nishi is quick to state the musical isn't true "Bollywood" but more a Broadway-type Indian Musical. Running two and a one-half hours, Nishi is currently fundraising for the project. She states that in July while casting she had projected an initial low cost of $6,000 to produce the musical. After casting and auditions and speaking with her theatre, it was determined the costs of set design, scenery, costumes and more would run in the realm of $10,000 to $15,000.
Nishi's KickStarter campaign for the musical is available through this web link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1028972797/the-rajahs-son-and-princess-labam
If you wish to support the musical, consider donating or helping to produce.
Nishi Rajan originally self-produced this play as a scripted 2-night staged-reading 2 years ago at the Medicine Show Theatre in 2012 as part of its summer playwright's workshop. Nishi had also produced it with the Galli Children's Theatre as a children's musical in 2010. Now, in 2014, Nishi is ready to bring her full dream to light as a full length production.
Photo credits: Jon Palombi - Lighter Than Air Photography