Theatre of change with Mumbai's kids

After months of practice, The Maya Musical is ready to be staged, to celebrate five years of Teach for India. the guide speaks to its founder and CEO, Shaheen Mistri, on this journey of dreams

Q. How did the idea of Maya emerge?
A. The Maya Musical was conceived as a way to celebrate five years of Teach For India. More than that, however, it was to be a demonstration of what’s possible for low-income children with no previous exposure to the arts. It is a symbol of the kind of education all children deserve — one that integrates academics, values and mindsets, and exposure and access.

Maya for all

The musical has an original script penned by me with lyrics by Broadway artists such as Rona Siddiqui, Sam Davis, David Goldsmith, Charlie Sohne and Sara Wordsworth. It tells the story of princess Maya’s journey. Tasked to bring light back into her kingdom, Maya and her friends use the values of courage, compassion and wisdom to lift three great curses that have been cast on the world. The musical is a magical adventure of Kutti, the South Indian dragoness, Indigo, the talking peacock, Zara, the mystical spinning and Ska, the nine-headed snake. The musical is co-directed by Nicholas Dalton, a Broadway-renowned actor, writer, dancer and teacher, and Sanaya Bharucha from Teach For India.

Rehearsals for Maya
Rehearsals for Maya in full swing prior to D-day

Bollywood designer Fali Unwalla has designed our sets; while Simi Nallaseth who animated for the Academy Award-nominated film Ice Age has designed our costumes.

Q. Who has composed the music for The Maya Musical?
A. Mary-Mitchell Campbell has composed the music for Maya. Mary has worked as a music director, vocal coach, orchestrator, and private pianist to some of Broadway’s most successful performers. Since moving to New York in 1996, Ms Campbell has worked on New York productions of Next to Normal, Company, Sweeney Todd, Beauty and the Beast, The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Prince and the Pauper, First Lady Suite, The World of Nick Adams, Our Town, Go Go Beach, The Screams of Kitty Genovese, The Audience, and Sweet Charity at Lincoln Center. Regionally, she has worked on productions 3hree and Embarrassments; internationally: Grace, the Musical (with Cy Coleman in Amsterdam); Green Violin (St Petersburg) and recordings of the album, As I Am (Kristin Chenoweth).

Q. What will the audience take home after watching Maya?
A. We want everyone in the audience to experience what is possible when we unlock the potential of each of our children. We constantly strive to provide an excellent education for all of our students and this show is a culmination of that vision. As the audience watches the show, we hope that they see the power in unlocking their potential, finding their light and the impact it can have on the world.

Our end vision was never a show. Our aim has always been to use Maya as a symbol of the kind of education all children deserve — one that integrates academics, values and mindsets, and exposure and access. We’ve also written a Maya book and simplified script, and a series of lesson plans so that any teacher, anywhere, can bring Maya into his or her classroom, and embark on a journey together with their children of finding their potential.

On: October 31 & November 1, 7.30 pm (both days)
At: Ravindra Natya Mandir, Prabhadevi.
On: November 9, 11 am
At: Sophia Auditorium, near Breach Candy.

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