‘Ramaavan – A Musical’ has successful run in New York City and Jersey City

Cast and crew of Ramaavan- A Musical. PHOTO: Courtesy Surati for Performing Arts

“Ramaavan – A Musical,” concluded a successful ten-show run in Jersey City and New York City October 29, 2023.

The series produced by creator and director Rimli Roy, began shows with a three-day run at the NJCU Margaret Williams Theater in Jersey City from October 20 – 22; it then moved to the The American Theater of Actors – Cullum Theatre, for off-Broadway shows from October 25 – 29.

Ravan with his warriors depecting his ten heads. PHOTO: SuratiFPA

The theatrical musical integrated various musical and dance genres complemented by a theme that aimed at transcending boundaries of race, bias and preconceived notions, lending to the uniqueness of RAM, a press release from the company said. The cast featured actors from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

Dancers rejoice on the return of Ram Laxman and Sita. PHOTO: Surati FPA

An English adaptation of a 2,000 year- old story, RAM is seen by the makers as relevant even today. The production combines intricate and energetic dance choreography, melodious music, “and a cast and crew with passion that transported audiences to Ayodhya, Panchavati and Lanka,” sites that are part of the age-old story.

Sita trains in combat in the forest of Panchavati. PHOTO: Surati FPA

Several new scenes and musical scores were added since it was last staged in 2022 in the same venue in Manhattan. The production was praised by those familiar with the lore and newcomers for its ability to blend tradition with innovation, taking audiences on a journey of love and justice, and crossing borders to do so.

Indrajit fights Hanuman. PHOTO: Surati for Performing Arts

“This year has been our most rewarding rendition of Ramaavan – A Musical, so far, as every year I try to enhance the show by adding new elements to the production, but we still have a lot of work to do. I am grateful for the incredibly talented cast, crew and dedicated team along with our sponsors and supporters who have made this show series possible,” Roy is quoted saying in the press release.

The Marketplace of Ayodhya comes alive with song and dance. PHOTO: Surati FPA

Rakesh Kaul, Vice Chairman of IAAC, shared his thoughts on the performance. “Ramaavan sticks close to the classic but artistically is a wondrous re-imagination of the tale all done in the English language. Ram is the protagonist who captivates all.”

Kaul went on to praise the Asura dance sequences which he said, “are full of fire and fury, and Ravana especially stomps the ground with vigor in the Shiva tandava stotram.”

Surpanakha delivers a Broadway-quality Italian opera when she sings the song “Lascia Ch’io Pianga” during the Soul of Sita scene, Kaul noted.

Golden Deer enchants Sita. PHOTO: Surati for Performing Arts

“The tour de force is the golden deer. I had never understood why Sita, who had everything, would have been enamored by the golden deer, but the performance reveals why we all run into golden deer in our lives to our regret. You will leave the theater smiling, flying high like Hanuman and filled with the picker-upper that is the magical Sanjeevani herbs,” Kaul added.

Board Member of IAAC, Anil Bansal, shared his enthusiasm, saying, “Ramaavan is an absolutely amazing show. Look forward to seeing it again.”

Chairman of IAAC Nirmal Mattoo, echoed similar praise. “Creativity at its best. The dances were mesmerizing. The fast-paced scenes kept one glued to the stage. A tour de force and a must for the family,” Mattoo said.

Rajeev Kaul, a Board Member of IAAC, expressed his pride, saying, “Indian music, dance, and storytelling are woven wonderfully to create a theatrical experience that everyone will enjoy. So proud of Rimli and her dedicated cast.”

Chief Administrative Officer of IAAC Richard Tigga, said he loved the show which was filled with great performances and committed young artists.

Laxman comes to Sita’s rescue during Surpanakha’s attack. PHOTO SuratiFPA

Characters like Jatayu (The Vulture King friend of Prince Ram), the enchanting Golden Deer Sita is bewitched by and the versatile monkey God Hanuman who danced and sang, caught the imagination of viewers.

Presented by IAAC (Indo American Arts Council) & Surati for Performing Arts, the show was sponsored by IAAC, Dance NYC, NJ Arts and Culture Renewal Fund, Visit NJ (NJ Tourism), Hudson County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs, Jersey City Arts and Culture Trust Fund, NJCU Center for the Arts, Saar.

For details of cast and crew, visit suratifpa.org/ramaavan



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