Lively Arts has added a third performance of the new family musical Tea with Chachaji on February 28 at 5:00 pm. In the following Q&A with the director, go behind the scenes of Making Books Sing’s new work, which the New York Times called “a tender and moving comedy-drama.”
Describe your musical theater background. When did you first start directing? What made you want to be a director?
My mother loves theater and as a young child that was something we loved and shared in common together. [I started directing] when I was 13. I remember dressing up my siblings and directing them in skits. Directing is a calling and it was always in my spirit, and I am glad God and my family and friends encouraged me to follow my calling.
You’ve also directed A Band of Angels and A Shelter in Our Car for Making Books Sing. What about directing for MBS is most appealing to you?
I believe children are our future, and when I was a child I didn’t see many musicals that reflected my culture. MBS and their mission, and commitment to diversity in subject matter and casting, inspire me.
Tea with Chachaji relates to your Indian heritage, while your two previous MBS shows related to your Caribbean heritage. How does the process and experience of working on Tea with Chachaji compare to that of your two previous shows?
Every show I work on is a unique experience, but this show has opened a part of my heart and spirit that has not only educated me about my culture even more, but allowed me to honor my ancestors through my work.
How has directing this show influenced your feelings about your own Indian heritage and your own family?
It’s a reminder to me to tell the story to my children of where my family [came from] and what sacrifices and strength it took for my ancestors to come to this country, so that [my children and I] could live a better life.
What is your favorite moment in Tea with Chachaji? Why?
I love the entire show but my favorite moment is when Chachaji dances with Neel at the end. It’s a full-circle moment.
What was your experience with family theater/theater for young audiences like when you were young?
It was very limited, and frustrating to never see people that looked like me on stage or in the storytelling.
What is it like now that you’re a director and a parent?
I feel like I am laying a legacy not only for myself in the work I choose to collaborate on, but that I am also leaving a legacy for my children to grow from.
How has working with Making Books Sing influenced your feelings about family theater?
I have always been a great supporter of family theater and will continue to support it. MBS has set a new bar for excellence in this field in the American theater and I am proud to be part of the movement.