The Harris Theater was a riot of color as more than 1,400 attendees, many wearing traditional Indian garb, arrived for the opening-night performance of "Sita Ram" on Dec. 14. The Chicago Children's Choir, the Lookingglass Theatre Company and the Natya Dance Theatre produced the sacred Hindu love story. Nearly 200 performers took to the stage for this musical extravaganza that emphasizes morality, multiculturalism and the power of love.
VIP guests enjoyed a pre-performance reception that included unicyclists and complimentary Indian-inspired costume jewelry.
The show opened with a grand spectacle of dancing and singing performers that filled the aisles as well as the stage. Acrobats from the Inappropriate Theater Company added to the excitement. More than 1,000 colorful costumes created by local designer Azeeza Khan brought the story to life against a set designed by Scott Neale.
"The story behind 'Sita Ram' is just as exciting as the action adventure 'Star Wars,' has just as much love in it as Shakespeare's 'Romeo and Juliet' and is as popular in East Asia as Homer's 'The Odyssey' is in Western culture," said director David Kersnar.
Following the performance, transportation was provided to the private afterparty at Embeya, a new Asian restaurant on the West Side.
In 2002 Josephine Lee, Chicago Children's Choir president and artistic director, commissioned Kersnar, Lookingglass Theatre's founding ensemble member and artistic director, to write "Sita Ram" with a score by Grammy-nominated musician Jai Uttal. "We see this show as something that could become the next 'Lion King,' said Lee. "It exposes children to a culture they would not have exposure to otherwise."
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