Still sounds super sweet

Still sounds super sweet

The new cast of Raell Padamsee's version of 'The Sound of Music'.

It’s been seven years since Raell Padamsee’s Sound of Music featuring Dalip Tahil as Captain von Trapp and Delna Mody as Frauline Maria was staged. But its charm remains the same even with the all-new cast — Arunoday Singh as the captain and Meher Mistry as the slightly goofy, ever-so-loving governess of his children. The production is snazzier and in tune with today’s technology. But the production house is still the same — ACE Productions — and so is the lady at the helm of it all, the brilliant Raell Padamsee.

The demand for an encore never stopped in the last seven years. Ask her about recreating the classic and she says, “The Sound of Music is an iconic musical. The response to our earlier musical was overwhelming. We forever had people demanding that we bring back the show. That’s what encouraged us to revisit it. This time around though, we planned to give it a different avatar with a younger von Trapp played by the talented Arunoday Singh, and Maria, played by the effervescent Meher Mistry.”

The big family

With a cast of 150, staging the musical was hardly child’s play, but they managed. This February, curtains went up in Mumbai to an overwhelming response from the young and the old alike. However, coordinating the large crew was a challenge, admits Raell. “We had children! They have schools and classes to match, and are from so many diverse schools and boards across the city. Then there were costumes and shoes, and even food! But when you look back, these challenges are what keep us rolling,” she smiles.

When actors like Christopher Plummer and Julie Andrews are strongly etched in viewers’ hearts, easing new actors into these roles would be a task fraught with difficulties. Raell says that the lasting memory of Christopher and Julie is because the audience loves them as Maria and Captain von Trapp. “People do come in with lots of expectations. But we had been careful not to replicate their image while casting. Thankfully, our actors did full justice to their parts by adding a unique dimension to their respective roles. The audiences were completely enamoured of them,” reveals Raell, exuberantly.

What also worked in favour of the musical was that it was treated differently not just from the film, but also from the previous one by ACE Productions. “We gave it a new-age treatment. With LED sets and projection on the walls, this was certainly the highlight of our shows. Then there was the awesome cast, and the fantastic team of our director Advait Hazrat, associate director Karla Singh, vocals director Marianne D’Cruz, music director Merlyn D’Souza, and our choreographers Karla Singh and Prince who brought in new magic to it,” says Raell, not missing anyone on her team.

An interesting aspect of Raell’s production company is that its every show has a small performance by children of the Create Foundation that she runs. It has been founded in memory of the noted actor Pearl Padamsee, Raell’s mother. Earlier this year, these kids performed at the end of the ABBA show, and this practice has been carried forward in The Sound Of Music. “We genuinely believe that every child should get an opportunity irrespective of the background he or she comes from. The foundation has impacted the lives of over 4,000 kids by working towards integrating children on a common platform.”

Let’s rove?

Going on a pan-city tour with The Sound of Music looks difficult for Raell’s crew as its logistics are a nightmare. At least for the moment. “It is a challenge and creatively overwhelming too, but you know what they say, ‘never say never’. Fingers crossed!” she laughs.

The annual calendar looks choc-a-bloc for this on-the-toes lady. In between running speech and drama courses at over 30 centres across Mumbai in the coming year, Raell is putting together her next big production. “We are also launching India’s best mentalist, Akshay Lakshman, in a show called Strangest Things. There is also our stand-up-cum-sketch comedy How I Met Your Father with Cyrus Broacha and Kunal Vijayakar, which is back in Mumbai; while Broken Images, with Shabana Azmi, continues to travel and perform globally. Across India, we still have Unfaithfully Yours with television stars Rohit Roy and Mona Singh going strong,” she says.

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